A new device being developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology could help those with faulty memories by reminding them they are not following doctor’s orders.

The device is a 1-oz necklace called Magna- Trace. Its sensors detect magnets the researchers say could be included in specially designed pills. The magnets would measure 33 mm in diameter and 1-mm thick, and have an indigestible, insoluble coating that keeps the body from absorbing them and prevents the magnets from clumping together. For patients who prefer not to wear a necklace, the same technology can be built into a patch for the chest.

The necklace has six sensors that detect when a medication passes through the esophagus and sends info to a wireless recording device such as a phone or PDA. Information would include date and time the patient swallowed the pill, and this data can be sent to the patient’s doctor. Besides keeping patients healthy, the device could be used in clinical drug trials to ensure volunteers take the correct pills at the proper time. The necklace has yet to undergo animal or human testing.

Maysam Ghovanloo Xueliang Huo

Georgia Tech researcher Maysam Ghovanloo (left) holds a pill containing small magnets while grad student Xueliang Huo holds a prototype of the MagnaTrace necklace around an artificial throat constructed of a bundle of straws in a PVC pipe section. The necklace detects the time and passage of the pill through the “throat.”