MEDSignals Creates a High Tech, User Friendly Pillbox

Here’s a piece of genuine elderly-friendly technology.  It’s simple enough that Grandma can use it, but the whole thing rings to the tune of Body 2.0.  The MEDSignals device is a convenient and handy pillbox that makes sure our overmedicated population don’t miss a beat.  Alongside its ability to task master and make sure pills are administered periodically, the MEDSignals box also lets patients, doctors, family know (via the web) that the pills are being taken regularly.  Although it is quite large (a welcome change from the usual nano-sized gadgets that the older generation generally does not care to learn how to use), the MEDSignals really does its job well.

What will it be, Neo? The red pill or the blue pill?

Now, thorough isn’t an adjective used when describing many things made or designed in this great country.  Our cars have worse build quality than the Italians (and when have you seen a Lamborghini that is not on fire?), we don’t read our laws before we pass them, and we were just so certain that there were WMDs in Iraq.  But MEDSignals: boy are they thorough.  There is an LED next to each of the four pill bins that can hold up to a month’s supply of pills.   The bins are numbered, color-coded and have Braille identifiers just to cover all the bases.  When it is time to take a pill, a pre-recorded voice tells the user that it is time, specifies the bin as well as the number of pills to take and also says any other instructions that have been programmed into the system.

If that isn’t enough, then worry not: the pill taking process is far from completed.  Coinciding with the voice, the LED beside the pill compartment flashes according to the number of pills to take while the same information is displayed on the screen.  But what if it’s a late dinner and the pills need to be washed down with some food?   Well, there is a snooze button that allows the alarm to be pushed back by convenient 30-minute intervals.  And at a cost of nearly $400 with additional monthly fees for data upload access, this thing better be thorough!

Once the MEDSignals system is put back into its charging station, it automatically detects the phone line and dials into an 800 number to report that the pill has been taken.  There is no need for internet connectivity (and it can’t even connect to the net anyhow).  How ingenious is that?   The folks at MEDSignals are banking on the fact that Grandma doesn’t have an internet connection and still clings to the technology of a golden era past: the landline.  Talk about knowing your customer, they hit it dead on!

There is still  that bit of technological charm available to those who want it, though, as the data can be viewed on the Internet by patients or doctors.  The pillbox can also be programmed on that same website.  This web interface pushes the MEDSignals system from handy gadget into the realm of Body 2.0.  Here at the Hub, we have been waxing relentlessly about this new revolution, and MEDSignals is the next stepping stone to getting there.  Here is a system that allows doctors, patients or family members to know instantly if something is amiss.  It is essentially an alarm that lets others know that something is going wrong.  This gaurdian pillbox will let doctors know that certain illnesses or maladies will be coming back even before they do.

After all, how much time and money is wasted in the healthcare industry due to improper use of medication?  Now it seems like doctors will finally have a tell-tale way of matching up side effects (like depression, nausea, vomiting, dia… oh, go and watch a viagra commercial, they’re all listed there) with the different medications that patients are taking.  It might be a simple correlation for one med but, when a few medications start interacting with each other, it can get very hairy.

All in all, the MEDSignals pillbox is a great, hi-tech reinvention of an old standby in any experienced pill-taker’s arsenal.  Though it might be funnier to think of Grandpa trying to use this new-fangled device, it’s not just for the elderly.  It could be used by anybody who has trouble taking their medication regularly (though the lack of internet connectivity shows exactly who is the target audience of this product).  Regardless of who uses it, this next stepping stone into the future of Body 2.0 shows where modern medicine is going.  We have discussed the Proteus system that detects which pill has been taken when it is inside the body.  This solution is a bit simpler, trusting that the user will make the move from pillbox to small intestine every time.  Regardless of how it happens, the not-too-distant future holds medications that will be tracked to ensure that they are taken.

Andrew Kessel
Andrew Kessel
Andrew is a recent graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, MA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. While at Northeastern, he worked on a Department of Defense project intended to create a product that adsorbs and destroys toxic nerve agents and also worked as part of a consulting firm in the fields of battery technology, corrosion analysis, vehicle rollover analysis, and thermal phenomena. Andrew is currently enrolled in a Juris Doctorate program at Boston College School of Law.
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