The idea came from analyzing the current divides in the health industry and finding a common problem. Not taking drugs properly when prescribed is a major factor in driving health care costs up (especially in the elderly and people of low socioeconomic standings).
What it does
Our device delivers the correct dosage of your pill (for now--hopefully add other drug functionality soon) at the correct time, automatically. A user is identified by the dispenser using NFC or RFID. The dispenser will identify the user using that as an unique ID and dispense the pills that must be taken today. This simplifies if you have many pill medications, are forgetful (think early onset Alzheimer's) , elderly (daily opening of bottles difficult), have multiple people in the same household on a regimen, or even need to regulate a scheduled substance.
How we built it
The dispenser is a beautiful mix of hardware and software. We use arduino with an NPX NFC module to read RFID or NFC cards. The arduino takes this Unique ID and sends it via serial to a Raspberry Pi. The raspberry pi will pull data from our database (which can be updated via an interface by pharmacists/doctors) and determine what pills need to be taken today. Then it will send the commands to dispense pills to the arduino. The arduino uses motors and stepper motors to finish the task.
Challenges we ran into
Communication between devices was very difficult because we did not have logic converters. Arduino 5V logic and the 3.3V logic of Raspberry Pi, Photon, Edison (pretty much all network connected devices) limited devices to serial communication only. Building the dispensary with nothing other than cardboard and tape. Having only one stepper motor. The overall lack of hardware provided at the hackathon was our largest limiting factor.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Getting it to somewhat work
What we learned
Never come to a hack-a-thon without extra hardware!
What's next for Med Dispenser
Hopefully we can get the process streamlined and find out our devices solves a specific need in the market. This product can help many different people, so to see it take off would be great.