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A laryngoscope — invented in the late 19th century — or other intubation tools currently available require human visual guidance to open airways. A team at The Ohio State University developed a robot that intubates patients with greater accuracy.

Having just completed proof-of-concept testing, the robotic endoscopic device is propelled by an electric motor and controlled by a small computer. The device receives three-dimensional information about its anatomical location by means of a small speaker placed on the skin near the patient’s laryngeal prominence, or Adam’s apple. The emitted sound and magnetic waves are detected by accelerometers and magnetic fields, respectively.

Next steps include refining computer software, optimizing the motor, and embarking on human tests.

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