Date of Award
The goals of the Pill of the Future design team are to simplify the organization and distribution of pills and to increase adherence of patients to their medication schedules. Patients with chronic illnesses or elderly patients would benefit greatly from a device that perform these tasks. Some traditional pill organizers are cumbersome and require dexterity to fill which make them difficult for many patients to use. An automated pill dispenser with smartphone app integration is the best device to solve these problems. To begin, the team researched existing solutions through literature and patent searches to determine how they function and how they are being used. Through this research, and through discussions with the University of Rhode Island's College of Pharmacy representatives, the team identified shortcomings in existing solutions and discussed how a more useful and cost-effective product could be developed. After researching the problem and some existing solutions, the team developed specifications for the dispenser. The most important being the ability to accurately dispense four pills of any type, with a footprint of less than 1 ft3 for under $100. Each member of the team designed, developed and rated thirty designs which were then submitted and analyzed by the rest of the team. Of these, the most promising were complied into a single design solution. This was continuously developed to meet the design specifications. To analyze the new design, the team developed a Quality Function Deployment (QFD) analysis. This allowed the team to visually examine how the design specifications were being met, where trade-offs would be made, and how the design compares with other existing solutions on the market. By the proof of concept date, the design solution satisfied all of the initial product specifications set by the team and sponsors. The second semester was focused on manufacturing, testing and redesigning the prototype. The team focused first on completing the housing and ensuring that it was an ergonomically sound design. This was made possible through rapid prototyping with the 3D printers at the Schneider Capstone Center. At the same time, the team was ordering and integrating components that would become the main parts of the mechanism (i.e. microcontroller, vacuum motor, power supply, stepper motors, etc.). Work was also being done to write the code for the Raspberry Pi, which would control the device and connect it to the user's smartphone. The team ran tests to determine the appropriate voltage to run the vacuum motor, if the silo design would hold an appropriate number of pills, and software debugging. As problems arose, the team would make alterations to the design to alleviate problems. This semester was too deemed successful because the team created a design that took the proof of concept and turned it into a functioning prototype. The design shows potential for improvements which would lead to mass production and a place in the market.
Garceau, Miles; Silva, Kyle; O'Brien, Steven; and Aspirinio, Dominic, "Pill of the Future -- Smart Automated Pill Dispenser" (2018). Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Projects. Paper 27.