Up to this point, four virtual prototypes have been made.
- Rotating Plate
- Cascading Container
- Stacked Container
I've learned a lot making these prototypes - more than I can possibly write about. Let my try to give a general outline of what the machine should do.
- Accept Pills
- Separate, catalog and verify if necessary
- With as much automation and as little required dexterity as possible
- Store Pills
- Pills can either be stored in an orderly manor or in bunches; in containers or tubes
- Dispense Pills
- Separate, verify if necessary
- Verify pills have been taken
- Easy to use/take pills
|Name||Rotating Plate||Tube||Cascading Container||Stacked Container|
|Accept Pills||TBD, |
Does not require verification
|Store Pills||Stored in containers, |
|Stored in tubes, |
Tube must match pill type,
|Stored in container, |
|Stored in container, |
|Dispense Pills||Rotating plate, |
Plates must match pill type
|Reciprocating plate (Probably), |
Plate must match pill type
|Rotate storage mechanism||Rotate storage mechanism|
|Notes||Simple but requires mechanism changes||Simple but requires mechanism changes||Complex||Complex|
In working with these designs, I've (probably) narrowed it down to two choices: the tubes (#2) and the stacked containers (#4). I'm not sure I can properly explain the design decisions, but I believe these mechanisms represent the best choice for two competing strategies.
If we assume that people buy this device, bring it home, and use it with their existing medication, a stacked container (#4) is best. If we go with the ink-jet model where people buy "cartridges" from a pharmacy or online. the tube (#2) is best.
I envision the stacked containers (#4) to be quite complex, but versatile (able to accept pills from prescription bottles). Pills need to be separated, verified, and added to a container. Dosage data also needs to be imputed. Pills will then be dispensed and verified again.
Using concept #2 (the tubes) bypasses a lot of steps. Pills will be put in the tubes at the factory/pharmacy and verified. Placing a cartridge (tube) in the machine would be easy, and the dispense mechanism would be built into the individual tube (haven't figured that out yet, but I envision something similar to a pen or mechanical pencil). The dosage data could be pre-loaded onto the tube (NFC). The machine would only have to keep track of the tubes and activate the dispense mechanisms at the correct time - a considerably simpler process.
Now, the question remains - #2 or #4?