Maria Garcia and Natalia Sanchez

Pill-ing Better

Product Description

Pill-ing Better is an easy-to-use smart assistance/pill dispenser targeted for elders during isolation. This product was created considering two of the main problems that elders face: taking their medicines and their inexperience with technology. Pill-ing Better will give them the possibility to take advantage of nowadays technologies by helping them remember activities in their daily routines and dispensing their pills. As a smart assistant, it will make some company to the senior and it will also allow the user to stay occupied, active, healthy and entertained; while being independent and improving their own wellbeing. Pill-ing Better is not only useful during isolation, it can also help many families to take care of their loved grandparents during normal circumstances. 

Why entered the competition?

We decided to join the Connect the Community Design Challenge as we thought this would be a great way to use our spare time during the lockdown, while creating a product that will help other people during the hard times of COVID-19.  Pill-ing Better was inspired by the struggles we know our grandparents face daily like: taking pills, remembering birthdays, tuning in their favourite TV shows on time or trying to use an Alexa. We also felt that this was a great opportunity to let our creativity develop something for the common good, while using our acquired engineering skills and, now, making it something real.   

Can you briefly outline how your design helps people isolated by Covid-19? 

Pill-ing Better is targeted to help elders during isolation that will not receive as much in-person care service as before. Our product will dispense their medicines and it will also be a smart assistant that will remind them about their medicine and other activities in their routine. In this way, Pill-ing Better aims to make them feel independent, improving their physical and mental health. 

Can you explain what motivated you to come up with such a solution and take the time and effort to enter this challenge? 

When we found out about the competition, we thought it was a great way to make something good out of these uncertain times that, hopefully, will help many people in the future. Our main source of inspiration was our grandparents. We thought about the struggles they face every day that worsened during isolation but also remembered the things that they enjoyed and tailormade a solution for them.  

Can you briefly explain how your solution works both in terms of features and functionality (does it use an app, is it battery powered, what are the key functional blocks)?

Our product is a device that can be wireless connected to an app, which will schedule medicine dispenses and reminders. It uses IoT in order to provide the ability to control the app and the device from far away, so the person in charge does not have to be in the same household as the device. It is meant to be an easy-to-use smart assistant for older people, who don’t have a lot experience using technology. Hence, it will work with a simple YES/NO voice recognition input. 

How are the above features enabled technically including any Nordic chips and wireless technologies used, battery life (if applicable), sensors employed etc. 

The connection between the app and the device will be done using the Nordic nRF9160 development kit. The device will not need batteries, as it will be plugged in the whole time, to ensure pills will be dispensed 24/7. The voice assistant will work using a speech recognition sensor and a speaker. Finally, the pill dispenser will work with a motor that rotates a disk with medicines and dispenses one dose at a time. 

Is this design a brand-new concept or an evolution of something you’ve worked on / developed / were developing before? 

Pill-ing Better is a completely new idea. When we found out about the competition, we were sitting on the couch and started to brainstorm right away until we finally came up with something and thought: ‘This is actually really good!’.

Can you give us a brief summary of your background / career and where you would like to take your career in the future if you are a student?  

We are both best friends studying engineering at the University of Glasgow.  
Maria Sofia: I am a 4th Year Mechanical Engineering student who is passionate about renewable energies. I see myself in the future tackling climate change through the decarbonisation of the energy sector and making green energy more accessible. 
Natalia: I am a 4th year Biomedical Engineering student. I am a big fan of science fiction and everything related with technology, so I see myself in the future working on the development of cool new devices. 

Is there anything else you think important worth mentioning about your design and why you developed it not covered by the questions above? 

In case no one has realised this yet, the name Pill-ing Better is a pun instead of Feeling Better, as it will make people feel better and it will dispense pills too. It also refers to the fact that it will do the work of dispensing pills and remind people about them better.