The endoscope has been the go to tool for doctors that need to look inside the digestive tract of a patient since the 1980's. These things are generally long, black cables that are forced through the mouth of up the bum of people when the doctors need to check for things like colon cancer or stomach issues. In 2008, we talked about a new development in endoscope tools that placed the camera into a small pill shaped capsule that the person swallowed to get a look at their innards.
The problem with that camera capsule was that it could only follow along and take photos inside the body using the muscle contractions of the patient's body. Some Japanese researchers have taken that endoscope capsule to the next level and attached a small propulsion system to it that allows the camera to swim through the digestive tract. The new capsule has what appears to be a flagella type mechanism on the back that uses a magnetic propulsion system.
The doctor is able to control the capsule using a joystick to get it to take photos of whatever part of the digestive track is needed. The device has been nicknamed "mermaid" and it would have to feel strange moving around inside the body. It is certainly better than a four foot long tube crammed down your throat.
[via Yahoo News]