Australian firefighters swallow datatransmitting pills to monitor the stress of fighting fires

A new swallowable pill has been trialled with 50 firefighters in Australia, aimed at monitoring body temperatures and other vital readings when working under extreme conditions. Using Equivital's VitalSense Core Temperature capsules, they transmit readings to the companion EQ02 LifeMonitor, housed on the chest. This then sends data on skin temperature, heart rate and respiration rate to an external computer. If a firefighter's core body temperature is increasing too quickly, they can then be moved from the frontline to a recovery area, hopefully reducing accidents and deaths caused by heat exhaustion.

Until now, the standard method involved measuring body temperatures through the ear, but this new method -- which was also used to monitor Felix Baumgartner's 23-mile drop to Earth -- offers a faster, more effective way of monitoring multiple vital signs. Research has so far focused on monitoring a firefighters' core temperature when they've been exposed to temperatures between from -3 to 124 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, but according to News.com.au, testing will continue on the Equivital capsules, with temperatures likely to go as high as 600 degrees Celsius -- about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. We're just hoping that electrical firewands are next on the list.