Smart pillbox uses facial recognition technology
Tuesday 01 February 2011
For people with conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia, remembering to take medicine, or accidentally taking it twice, can be a serious issue - especially since many seniors take multiple pills a day. To help the boomer population maintain some independence, two undergraduate engineering students from the University of Texas have devised a smart pillbox that uses facial recognition software to remind users when to pop their pills or tell them if they've already done so.
Reported in the science and technology magazine Popular Science on January 28, the project is "rudimentary," but that can offer an advantage because it only requires a computer and a webcam, something a lot of homes already have. The students have released the open source code for free - for anyone with some technical know-how, the system could be up and running quickly in your home.
When it's time to take your medication, the system sounds an alert. The webcam recognizes your face, while a band worn on your finger helps the system track your hand movements. "It then watches you take your pills and notes that you have done so," reports Popular Science, "ensuring that you don't forget you took them and come back for another dose until the proper amount of time has passed." The program can be programmed as per your doctor's regimen.
The downside is that using the system requires a good degree of user participation, including putting the band on your finger, so it won't likely work for more advanced stages of memory loss.
"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," states the article.
Another smart pillbox device soon to be on the market is the TabSafe Medical Dispenser, which was named one of the most innovative products in the health and wellness sector at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The dispenser stores and releases medication on a set schedule, sending out audible and visual reminders when it's time to take your meds. Users push a button on the device and the correct number of pills is released into a drawer. If a patient fails to take his or her medication, the system alerts a caregiver or a call center.
To read more about the smart pillbox project and to access the code, visit the students' Wikipedia page: http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Project_Smart_Pill_Box#Description
Watch a video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nR1959cPd8
Learn more about TabSafe: http://www.tabsafe.com/
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