SciFi in Ag: Smart Pills for Cows (and other livestock)

On November 13th of this year, the FDA approved the first digital pill for human-use with a digital ingestible sensor.


The sensor itself, about the size of a grain of sand, is activated by the use of energy from stomach acid. A patch placed on the rib cage of the patient is then able to receive the data from the smart pill and relay that information to a smartphone.

Currently the data is limited to just whether or not the pill enters the digestive system of the patient. It either enters the system, or it doesn’t, making a pretty basic record for doctors to review.

Of course, the data can be expanded into many other elements through the use of Neural Dust which has been tested with mice.


Even without Neural Dust, there are companies that already exist in the cattle market. These companies have access to technology that wirelessly transmit data regarding cow vitals from inside the cow’s stomach.

With this technology, management of your cows’ antibiotic prescriptions and proper dosages can definitely be achieved. Additionally, farmers can have an overall better understanding of their cattle health by having such an exact kind of traceability.

Right now it’s only approved for use with Abilify in humans, so unless your cow is schizo, it’s probably not going to be coming to your herd anytime soon.

With human approval already complete, however, it’s not a stretch to have animal approval in the near future.

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