Since the appearance of the first known “endoscope”, designed by Phillip Bozzini around 1806, and the somewhat more helpful instruments devised a little later by Fisher, Ségalas and Désormeaux, the quest of the curious physician to make the innermost parts of the body visible to the human eye seems to know no bounds. In 1853 Désormeaux succeeded in having his instrument manufactured and sold commercially by the firm Charrière. By the end of the 19th century, rigid endoscopes with lighting systems in their shaft had been designed and were employed until the mid- 20th century. They were then replaced by flexible instruments taking advantage of Van Heel, Hopkins and Kapany’s discovery of optical fibers.

     Their practical application was the work of Basil Hirschowitz and Larry Curtiss, and the fiberscopes which emerged in the late 1960s seemed to be the lasting development achievement in the visualization of the gastrointestinal tract as photographs of reasonable definition could be taken and biopsy samples could be collected. However, technology continued its unstoppable march towards further achievements.

     During the combined meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association (A.G.A.) and the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (A.S.G.E.) in 1983, the firm Welch-Allyn, mostly known for manufacturing ophthalmologic equipment, exhibited a new instrument that caused a tremendous impact: the video-endoscope. It looked just like an ordinary fiberscope except for the objective lens which had been replaced by a small DVD sensor of only a few millimeters in diameter. Many of us stared in awe at the images transmitted with excellent definition onto a television screen. The “chip” revolutionized medical and surgical endoscopy and rapidly began to supplant the previous models. With these new videoscopes that could be manufactured with very small diameters, it seemed we had reached the desideratum in endoscopic visualization, where any type of endoscopy, such as bronchoscopy or cystoscopy, could be performed with little discomfort for the patient. Pediatric gastrointestinal endoscopy became equally easy.

     About a decade ago, however, possibly inspired by the radiotelemetering capsules that Jacobson had devised at the Karolinska Institute for measuring and recording temperatures, pH and pressures within the gut, some eager scientists started experimenting with very small DVD sensor devices which were able to transmit images from the gut to an outside monitor. Various types of capsules in which a sensor was enclosed could be easily swallowed and the resulting images could be followed throughout the gut.

     Two separate teams of researchers working independently at different locations succeeded in transmitting images of the lumen of the gut using sensors enclosed in rather small pills. These initial images were already of reasonable quality. An Israeli team led by a physicist, Gavriel Iddan, designed the first wireless endoscopic capsule.