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Author Topic: RFID Meter with ID-12, answers "Did I already take this pill?"  (Read 5956 times)
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I put together an RFID Meter to answer the question "Did I already take that pill?" for my mother. (video, details, construction photos) Each pill bottle has an RFID tag on it, and she scans each bottle right before taking the pill. When she scans the bottle, the meter either says 'yes' (green LED, friendly tone, go ahead and take it), or 'no' if it was taken already (red LED, bad tone, do not take it).


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It uses the ID-12 reader from Innovations, and I tested it with both SparkFun's RFID cards and smaller tags from Trossen Robotics – see the parts list for details on those.

Although daily-pill holders solve a similar problem, this manages irregular pills, too, such as cold or headache medicine that is taken as needed but still should not be taken too often.
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Another method of doing it would be to have a switch on the pill holder, when she opens it it remembers she opened it, and if she opens it twice in too short a period it tells her no

(sorry you got me thinking smiley-razz)

Possible situations with your method: She takes but forgets to swipe

Possible situations with my method: She opens, but doesn't take, then later opens to take but it tells her she took it

Another solution: She has to swipe to open the bottle, but still if she doesn't take it, then she can't even say "Well, I didn't take it before"


Again, got me thinkin a bit too hard smiley-razz
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I like it a lot, I am going to show this to my mom tonight!
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Federico - Sideralis
Arduino &C: http://www.sideralis.org
Foto: http://blackman.amicofigo.com

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This is a really good idea and a great project.  With a few refinements - LED or LCD display (to display frequency etc..) and RTC - this good be an excellent project and really valuable/useful end result.
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Thanks for the comments, all!

@Valalvax:
I like the switched-lid idea. I know a couple times starting off she forgot to scan the bottle, but I think it's enough of a routine now. (I'll have to check in; I made it while I was staying at home for a few months, but now I'm in another city again.)

Also, I realized it'd be a pretty trivial smartphone app, especially with the zxing library for Java/Android – just scan the bottle's barcode when you take a pill. It suffers the same drawback that you have to remember to scan it, though; just obviates hardware cost, and makes IO easier.

@Federico: Thanks! I'd be interested to hear what she thinks. (I wonder if this just appeals to the gadget-minded and their accomodating mothers, or if it's enough of a packaged experience to seem generally helpful. Not that I'm mass-producing.)

@defsdoor: Thanks. I agree, the two major drawbacks are that it has to be on all the time (RTC would be great, but I was learning/experimenting enough that I didn't want to add RTC to the time/cost); and that you only get binary feedback (unless you have your laptop plugged in).
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Great idea. Nice implementation.

Now work on a stair lift that gets you upstairs so fast you haven't forgotten what you went up for.
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A quick report from The User:

For a truly senile person, it would be best to have to scan the pill bottle before it will open.  I am just distracted, not senile, so I do remember to scan after I've taken the pill if I forget before taking it.

I LOVE the night light: it fades on and off gently!

And I'll sign up to try the gizmo that gets me upstairs before I've forgotten why I wanted to go there...

Mary (the Mom)
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Mark the more I think about it the better I like it. I am sure there is some commercial potential here.

My wife thought it would be great for telling things like if she was allowed to take another dose of pain killers instead of having to work out when the last time was she took them. She said that they always make her feel a bit disorientated. So this could say something like "no not for another two hours", or something like that. Lots of pharmaceutical applications / variants here.

However, I think the stair lift (lift is the UK word for elevator) might have to contrive general relativity and require faster than light travel.  smiley-cry
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It might be cheaper to create a machine that brings past you into the future to tell you what you were there for...
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Cool project! I think a neat addition would be to use the night light as an indicator. So if a pill was able to be taken or "due", the light would slowly pulse (kinda like the sleep light on my Mac). This way you could tell just from walking by the bathroom if it was time to take a pill, instead of randomly going in throughout the day and scanning bottles.
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Cool project! I think a neat addition would be to use the night light as an indicator. So if a pill was able to be taken or "due", the light would slowly pulse (kinda like the sleep light on my Mac). This way you could tell just from walking by the bathroom if it was time to take a pill, instead of randomly going in throughout the day and scanning bottles.

I don't think "randomly going in throughout the day" would be a problem. Rather, I envisage the problem being the user completely forgetting the designated pill taking time.

Your suggestion to "use the night light as an indicator" caters for this scenario, and hence is a good one, though I think it should be combined with an audio indicator.
Presumably, the indicators would be reset after the first bottle/id is scanned.
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Another scenario that comes to mind, is the user not scanning *all* of the designated pills at the 'taking time'.
ie. they take 1 or 2, but forget to take the 3rd.

The arduino however would be aware of this, and hence should indicate this to the user.
Considering the user would already be in front of the unit, a text display would be user friendly and appropriate.

Do not underestimate the importance of an interface being user friendly when dealing with someone who is not well.
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