by venturebeat — In a development straight out of science fiction, Endiatx, a pioneering medical technology company, is making significant strides in bringing its robotic pill to market. The company’s CEO, Torrey Smith, recently sat down with VentureBeat to share exciting updates on their progress, nearly two years after our initial coverage of the startup’s ambitious vision. Founded in 2019, Endiatx has been steadily working towards realizing the fantastic voyage of miniaturized robots navigating the human body for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Their flagship product, the PillBot, is an ingestible robotic capsule equipped with cameras, sensors, and wireless communication capabilities, allowing doctors to examine the gastrointestinal tract with unprecedented precision and control.

In the interview, Smith revealed that Endiatx has raised $7 million in funding to date, with the largest investment of $1.5 million coming from Singapore-based Verge Health Tech Fund. This injection of capital has propelled the company forward, enabling them to refine their technology and conduct clinical trials. Join enterprise leaders in San Francisco from July 9 to 11 for our flagship AI event. Connect with peers, explore the opportunities and challenges of Generative AI, and learn how to integrate AI applications into your industry. Register Now “We’re currently in clinical trials with our pill bot technology,” Smith explained. “We’ll be starting pivotal trials at a leading U.S. medical institution in Q3/Q4.” Though Smith did not name the institution due to confidentiality agreements, he hinted that it is a renowned facility known for its expertise in gastroenterology. The PillBot has come a long way since its inception. The current prototype measures just 13mm by 30mm and boasts impressive capabilities. “It can transmit high-res video at 2.3 megapixels per second, and we have plans to quadruple that video quality soon,” Smith enthused. The CEO himself has played a vital role in testing, having swallowed 43 PillBots to date, including live on stage in front of a stunned audience.

Endiatx’s ultimate goal is to secure FDA approval and launch commercially in the U.S. by early 2026. The company envisions a future where PillBots are readily available and affordable, potentially even sold over-the-counter at pharmacies for around $50. This could totally transform the field of gastroenterology, making diagnostic procedures more accessible, convenient, and cost-effective for patients. But Smith’s vision extends far beyond just making the PillBot widely available. He sees artificial intelligence (AI) playing a crucial role in the device’s future. “AI is how we go from 1 percent of people getting access to this tech to 100 percent of people getting access to it multiple times a year if necessary,” he explained. Currently, the PillBot requires a doctor to manually control its movement and camera, but Smith envisions a future where the device is fully autonomous, guided by AI. This could allow the technology to reach an even wider population, potentially saving countless lives through early detection and treatment of gastrointestinal issues. Smith emphasized that AI models require vast amounts of data to learn and improve, and that’s where Endiatx’s PillBot comes in. “PillBot is the fountain of cheap data inside the human body,” he said. “The data services that we intend to offer as part of this ecosystem are going to completely change the way that we do healthcare.”

How PillBot works: A tiny robotic marvel

At the heart of Endiatx’s groundbreaking technology is the PillBot, a miniature robotic capsule that packs a powerful punch. Measuring just 13mm by 30mm, this tiny device is designed to be easily swallowed by patients, allowing it to navigate through the gastrointestinal tract and provide doctors with detailed imagery of the body’s inner workings. The PillBot is equipped with a state-of-the-art camera system, capable of capturing high-resolution video at an impressive 2.3 megapixels per second. This video feed is transmitted wirelessly to a doctor’s computer or mobile device in real-time, providing a live, up-close look at the patient’s digestive system.

What sets the PillBot apart from traditional endoscopy is its non-invasive nature and ease of use. Unlike conventional endoscopy procedures, which require sedation and a visit to a medical facility, the PillBot could be swallowed by the patient in the comfort of their own home. This coud eventually eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming hospital visits, making the diagnostic process more convenient and accessible for patients. But the PillBot isn’t just a simple pill camera. It’s a fully-fledged robotic device, complete with its own propulsion system. Tiny micromotors and propellers allow the PillBot to maneuver through the gut with precision and control, guided by a doctor using a simple handheld game controller. “The front of PillBot is basically like a normal pill camera,” Smith explained. “It’s got LEDs to illuminate, it has a nice camera, it has electronic communication with the outside world. The back of PillBot is three DC electric motors with propellers on them, oriented so that you can fly in X, Y, and Z.”

This level of maneuverability is what distinguishes the PillBot from other swallowable pill cameras on the market. While most pill cameras rely on natural gut movements to navigate through the digestive tract, the PillBot can be actively controlled, allowing doctors to examine specific areas of interest in greater detail. Powering this miniature marvel is a tiny battery, which provides enough energy for the PillBot to complete its mission and transmit valuable data back to the doctor. And thanks to Endiatx’s advanced engineering, all of these components are safely encapsulated within a biocompatible shell, ensuring that the device is both effective and safe for patients to ingest. From the moment it’s swallowed to the time it’s naturally expelled from the body, the PillBot is constantly working, gathering vital information that can help doctors diagnose and treat a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders. It’s a testament to the power of miniaturization and the ingenuity of the Endiatx team, who have managed to pack such advanced technology into a device no larger than a multivitamin.

From football to pill: Overcoming the technical challenges The journey from concept to reality for Endiatx’s PillBot has been one of relentless innovation and problem-solving. When the company first set out to create a swallowable robotic pill, they knew they were facing a daunting task. The earliest prototypes were far from the sleek, compact device that exists today. “We started at football size,” Smith revealed, chuckling at the memory. “We’ve just gone through over 20 different generations to make it smaller and smaller.” Shrinking a complex robotic system down to a size that could be easily swallowed was no small feat. The Endiatx team had to find ways to miniaturize every component, from the cameras and motors to the batteries and wireless communication modules. This required a deep understanding of engineering principles and a willingness to think outside the box. One of the biggest challenges was finding a way to transmit high-quality video from inside the body without using too much power. The team experimented with various wireless technologies before settling on a custom-designed system that could provide reliable, high-speed data transmission while minimizing energy consumption.

“We have to push a radio signal through salty human tissue, which is really hard,” Smith explained. “We are down in the low band, at 915 megahertz right now.” Another significant hurdle was creating a propulsion system that could effectively navigate the complex environment of the human gut. The team tested numerous designs, from quad-copter configurations to the current tri-motor setup, before finding a balance between power, control, and size. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the PillBot’s evolution is the way in which Endiatx has managed to pack all of these advanced technologies into such a tiny package. The current prototype, measuring just 13mm by 30mm, is a marvel of miniaturization.

“Right now, it’s a treat,” Smith said, holding up the device. “13 millimeters by 30. But if you hold a handful of pill cameras in your hand, it just looks and feels like a bunch of normal pills.” This achievement is a testament to the skill and dedication of the Endiatx engineering team. By leveraging cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing and custom flexible circuit boards, they have been able to create a device that is not only small and swallowable but also robust enough to withstand the harsh environment of the human digestive system.

Reviving the spirit of Silicon Valley innovation

In a tech landscape now dominated by software and apps, Endiatx stands out as a throwback to the early days of Silicon Valley innovation. The company’s approach to developing the PillBot hearkens back to a time when engineers, experts, and tinkerers worked side-by-side to solve complex problems with cutting-edge technology. Founded in a garage in Redwood City, California, Endiatx embodies the spirit of the idealized Silicon Valley startup. “We started in my living room,” recalled Smith. “It’s like a hardcore group of deep tech engineers. We build it here. We code it here. We swallow it here.” That quote should go on the wall somewhere. This hands-on, vertically integrated approach is central to Endiatx’s ability to innovate quickly and push the boundaries of what’s possible with medical robotics. Unlike many modern tech companies that rely heavily on outsourcing and off-the-shelf components, Endiatx has chosen to keep every aspect of the PillBot’s development in-house. “We are completely vertically integrated,” Smith explained. “We write all the code. We have to pack all of the compute, storage, processing, and radio into an extremely small form factor with very limited electrical power. There’s no room on this system anywhere to use someone else’s software libraries.”

By designing and manufacturing everything themselves, the Endiatx team can ensure that each component of the PillBot is optimized for the specific challenges of operating inside the human body. This level of control and customization is essential when working at such a small scale, where every millimeter and milliamp matters. But vertical integration isn’t just about technical necessity, because it’s also about fostering a culture of collaboration and problem-solving. The Endiatx team comprises a diverse group of experts, including engineers, software developers, and medical professionals, who work side-by-side to tackle challenges from every angle. “If you just showed up randomly, you’d probably shake hands with 15 engineers, 15 people that are physically here grinding out full-time work,” Smith noted.

This multidisciplinary approach allows for a level of creativity and cross-pollination that might be lost in a larger and more siloed organization. By working together under one roof, the team can quickly iterate on designs, test prototypes, and refine the PillBot’s capabilities in real-time. Walking through the Endiatx headquarters in Hayward, California, the spirit of innovation is palpable. The space is a hive of activity, with areas dedicated to engineering, manufacturing, and testing. “We’ve got an office area, but then we also have injection molding, mills, lathes, we’ve got welding, sandblasting, and then the 3D printing and all the electronics design and precision assembly,” Smith described as he took us on a virtual tour. This state-of-the-art facility allows Endiatx to move from concept to prototype to final product at a pace that would be impossible if they were relying on external partners. It’s a throwback to the early days of Silicon Valley, when companies like Hewlett-Packard and Apple were born in garages and grew into global powerhouses on the strength of their engineering prowess and innovative spirit. In a Silicon Valley that often seems more focused on incremental gains and quick exits than on truly groundbreaking innovation, Endiatx stands as a reminder of what’s possible when a group of dedicated engineers and problem-solvers come together to tackle a major challenge. Their vertically integrated, garage-startup approach may be a throwback, but it’s also a model for a new generation of deep tech innovators looking to make a real difference in the world.

The long shadow of Theranos and Silicon Valley’s misplaced priorities The story of Endiatx’s struggle for funding is a cautionary tale that highlights both the long shadow cast by the Theranos scandal and the misplaced priorities of Silicon Valley investors. While the company’s groundbreaking robotic pill technology has the potential to totally transform healthcare, Endiatx has had to navigate a challenging landscape shaped by skepticism and shortsightedness. The high-profile downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and her blood-testing startup, Theranos, has made investors and the public wary of bold claims in the medical technology industry. For Smith, the impact of this scandal has been both frustrating and motivating. “I’m sort of upset that they were able to raise more than a billion dollars on lies,” he confessed. “And we’ve raised 7 million telling the truth.”

This skepticism has made it more difficult for legitimate startups like Endiatx to secure funding and trust from investors, particularly in Silicon Valley. “I’ve pitched this company more than a thousand times all over the world,” Smith said. “A lot of the investors, especially in biotech and deep tech investors, were like, ‘Hey, I’m not going to get fooled again by this nonsense.’” But the Theranos debacle is just one part of a larger problem plaguing Silicon Valley’s investment culture. In recent years, the region’s investors have become increasingly focused on short-term gains and quick exits, pouring billions of dollars into apps and platforms that offer incremental improvements to existing services, rather than tackling truly hard problems. From yet another food delivery startup promising slightly faster service to the latest crypto scheme, Silicon Valley’s priorities seem to have strayed far from the kind of deep, meaningful innovation that companies like Endiatx represent. This shortsightedness not only denies funding to potentially world-changing technologies but also risks eroding the Bay Area’s reputation as a hub for groundbreaking innovation.

Faced with this challenging landscape, Endiatx has had to work harder to prove the legitimacy and viability of its technology. The company has prioritized transparency, openly discussing the technical hurdles they’ve faced, the rigorous testing and clinical trials they’ve undergone, and the regulatory approvals they’ve secured. “We’d say, ‘Fine, we will swallow this camera live on, or this pill, this robot pill, live on stage, and we will put the live video up on the big screen, and I will give you the Xbox controller,’” Smith recounted. “‘And you know, as far as I’m concerned, you can race it around my stomach. We need to show people that we’re actually doing it.’” This commitment to tangible proof has been crucial in helping Endiatx build trust and credibility in the wake of Theranos. But it has also meant looking beyond the confines of Silicon Valley for funding. Despite the company’s ties to the Bay Area, it was a firm from Singapore, Verge HealthTech Fund, that stepped up to lead their $1.5 million Series A round. The fact that Endiatx had to look beyond Silicon Valley for its most significant backing is a pertinent example of just how far the region’s investment priorities have drifted. It suggests that even in the heart of the tech world, there is a growing disconnect between what investors are funding and what truly matters in terms of societal impact and human progress. But for Smith and his team, the Theranos scandal and Silicon Valley’s skepticism have also served as a powerful motivator. They are driven by a desire to prove that real innovation and progress are possible in the medical technology space, and that not every startup with a bold vision is destined to follow in Holmes’ footsteps.

AI, autonomy, and the transformative potential of robotic pills For Endiatx, the journey to bring the PillBot to market is just the beginning of a much larger vision for the future of medical robotics. Smith has his sights set on an even more ambitious goal: developing AI-powered, autonomous robotic pills that can navigate the entire human body and perform surgical procedures. “I think we’re creating a trillion-dollar market category with tiny robots in the body,” Smith explained. “I think it’s going to completely change the way we do internal medicine.” Central to this vision is the integration of artificial intelligence into the PillBot platform. Smith believes that AI will be the key to making the technology accessible to everyone, not just the lucky few who can afford cutting-edge medical care.

By collecting vast amounts of data from inside the body and using it to train AI algorithms, Endiatx aims to create robotic pills that can autonomously navigate the complex terrain of the human anatomy, detecting and diagnosing issues without the need for constant human oversight. This could dramatically reduce the cost and increase the accessibility of advanced medical diagnostics, making it possible for people around the world to benefit from the technology. But Smith’s ambitions don’t stop at diagnosis. He envisions a future where robotic pills can perform targeted surgical procedures, delivering treatments directly to the site of disease or injury. “Honestly, I’m not going to be creatively satisfied until we put surgical tools on PillBot, until we’ve made PillBot small enough that it can go other places in your body,” he declared. This vision of miniaturized, autonomous surgical robots may sound like science fiction, but Smith is confident that it’s an achievable goal. “I want to make rice grain size, nuclear powered, brain surgeons, right, that can go after those glioblastomas” he said, referring to the personal tragedy of his aunt’s terminal brain tumor that inspired him to pursue a career in medical robotics.

This dedicated team of engineers and researchers is constantly innovating, finding ways to shrink the PillBot’s components and increase its capabilities. From custom flexible circuit boards to advanced battery technologies, every aspect of the device is being optimized for the challenges of operating inside the human body. As Endiatx continues to make strides towards this ambitious future, the potential impact on healthcare is truly staggering. Imagine a world where cancer can be detected and treated before symptoms even appear, where life-saving surgeries can be performed without a single incision, and where the most advanced medical care is accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or economic status. This is the future that Torrey Smith and the team at Endiatx are working towards – a future in which the power of robotics, AI, and miniaturization is harnessed to revolutionize the way we approach human health and well-being. It’s a bold vision, but one that is grounded in the very real progress the company has already made with the PillBot.

A new wave of deep tech innovation

As Endiatx continues to push the boundaries of medical technology, it’s clear that we are witnessing more than just the rise of another promising startup. The PillBot represents the beginning of a long wave of deep tech innovation, a return to the core values that once made Silicon Valley the world’s most vibrant and transformative technology hub. In an era when many investors and entrepreneurs have become more focused on quick wins and incremental gains, Endiatx stands as a reminder of the incredible power of tackling hard problems with cutting-edge science and engineering. But beyond its groundbreaking technology, the company also serves as a model for how to innovate effectively in today’s complex and rapidly-evolving business landscape. Endiatx’s success is a testament to the power of breaking down barriers, fostering close collaboration, and embracing vertical integration. By bringing together experts from diverse fields – from robotics and AI to medicine and materials science – and keeping every aspect of development in-house, the company has been able to move with unparalleled speed and agility.

This approach has allowed Endiatx to overcome the many technical and regulatory hurdles that often slow down or derail ambitious deep tech projects. By owning every part of the process, from initial research to final manufacturing, the company has been able to maintain a laser focus on its ultimate goal, even as it navigates the complexities of developing a first-of-its-kind medical device. In this sense, Endiatx’s story carries important lessons not just for other deep tech startups, but for any organization looking to drive transformative innovation in the face of daunting challenges. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company looking to pivot into new markets or a scrappy startup trying to bring a bold vision to life, the principles that have guided Endiatx’s journey – collaboration, integration, and a relentless commitment to pushing boundaries – are more relevant than ever. Of course, not every company can or should aspire to the kind of vertical integration that Endiatx has achieved. But the underlying philosophy – that true innovation requires breaking down silos, bringing together diverse perspectives, and owning the entire problem – is one that decision-makers across industries would do well to embrace.

As we stand on the cusp of a new era of technological transformation, driven by advances in fields like robotics, AI, and biotech, this philosophy will only become more important. The challenges we face, from curing diseases to mitigating climate change to extending human presence beyond Earth, will require a level of ambition, collaboration, and outside-the-box thinking that few companies have yet to achieve.

But if the story of Endiatx tells us anything, it’s that this kind of transformative innovation is possible – and that the rewards for those who pursue it are immense. Not just in terms of business success, but in terms of the impact they can have on the world. As the PillBot begins its journey from the lab to the clinic to the wider world, it carries with it the promise of a new era of healthcare, one where early disease detection and minimally invasive treatments are accessible to all. But it also carries the promise of something bigger – a new model for innovation itself, one that is driven by bold visions, enabled by cross-disciplinary collaboration, and realized through a fearless commitment to tackling the hardest problems. For technology decision-makers across industries, this is the lesson to take from Endiatx’s remarkable journey. That in an age of rapid change and daunting challenges, the key to success lies not just in what you innovate, but in how you innovate. And that by breaking down barriers, thinking beyond incrementalism, and embracing the kind of end-to-end ownership that Endiatx embodies, even the most audacious visions can become reality. This is the spirit of deep tech innovation, the spirit of a reborn Silicon Valley – and it’s a spirit that we’ll need more than ever as we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the decades ahead. Endiatx is showing us the way forward, one tiny robot at a time. The question now is who will follow in their footsteps, and how far will they go?