For people with memory-degrading conditions like Alzheimer’s, it’s not always easy, or even possible, to remember to take one’s medicine. Yet forgetting to take your meds—or perhaps worse, forgetting that you already took them and doubling up—can derail a dosage schedule and in worse cases be detrimental to your health. So a couple of University of Texas students have come up with a smart digital system that helps the forgetful among us remember to pop our pills and verifies visually that we’ve done so.
By the students’ own admission their Project Smart Pill Box is somewhat rudimentary, which in certain respects is an advantage because the only hardware it requires is a computer and a Web cam, two pieces of technology that are already present in most homes these days.
When it’s time to take you meds, the computer sounds an alert. The Web cam powers up and recognizes your face, and a colored band worn on the finger (the patient has to put this on) helps the system track hand movement. It then watches you take your pills and notes that you have done so, ensuring that you don’t forget you took them and come back for another dose until the proper amount of time has passed (it can be programmed to fit your doctors regimen).
The system does require a high degree of patient participation—that is, it doesn’t ensure that people who are trying to dodge their medicine take their pills on time. But for the merely forgetful, it does seem like a handy system to have around. Given the time and technology, the duo would like to design a special pill box with embedded weight sensors so it can verify that you take the right pills and that you take all of them.
Jackie and Zach offer a more thorough demonstration in the video below, and there’s more info on the project here.