Pill dispenser tattles to the Internet when you don’t take your pills


Here’s another entry in the Parallax microMedic 2013 contest. [Tim] calls it his Propeller-based Internet Logging Pill Dispenser (PDF file), or P.I.L. Box for short.

The hardware is a base unit into which a normal plastic pill organizer is placed. We like this design, as many pharmacies will fill pill boxes for you and this doesn’t complicate that process. You simply pull out the correct box at the beginning of the week and put it in the base unit. You can see one white LED is shining on the Monday slot in the box. This lights up starting an hour before the set pill taking time. This way if you walk by it reminds you. There is also a voice tailor made to scare the elderly that comes out of the speaker, and a simple messages spelled out on the set of seven segment displays. The base unit detects when you press the button to open the pill box and counts that as a properly administered dosage.

Now, if you forget to take the pill it’s not a good thing. The server, which is running on the laptop, will rat you out. It uses the Twitter API to alert whomever is following it — meant for a relative or caregiver — that a dosage was missed. Let’s hope they’re good at keeping up with their Twitter feed!

We remember seeing one other microMedic entry so far, this heart-shaped heart simulator. But we’re going to look around and see how many other good ones we’ve missed.


  1. Ren says:

    A smooth shout out to my man [Tim]!

  2. Ren says:

    Maybe it could be called Propeller-based Internet Lozenge Logging Access Gets Easier!

  3. Thanks for the writeup Mike, I don’t see a link thru to more details, so here they are
    Video with some documentation, schematics and such listed in the comments

  4. Hirudinea says:

    A nice upgrade would be to text message the pill taker/care giver if a dose is missed.

  5. Nathan says:

    Is it because [Tim] is entering this into the contest that I’m not seeing build information for this, or am I missing something? The link appears to just go to the contest’s website. My wife’s grandmother is suffering from dementia, and something like this would definitely be helpful to keep tracks on her. (She’s violently adamant that she’s still capable of taking care of herself contrary to the evidence….)

  6. paul hardin says:

    A few companies have already done similar concepts to this (starting 2007)… http://www.vitality.net/ Taken/not taking a pill is considered a medical record… twitter makes that open.

    • Had seen some reminder dispensers before, but not GlowCap specifically $80 per bottle and a monthly service fee…Yikes..You’re right about Twitter, it was just an example to show what can be done, would be more realistic to send a direct twitter message, an email or a text message. The log could be made into an RSS feed as well

  7. Scaramouche says:

    Oh good, now if you don’t take your pills the nsa will know all about it.

  8. bithead942 says:

    Nice job! I built something similar to remind my family to feed our pet lizard and monitor the temperature. i used a combination of PCs and an Arduino. It starts with friendly verbal reminder, and then gets grumpy and finally sends text messages if neglected for too long.


  9. Mental2k says:

    I forget to take pills all the time. This is a pretty clever idea. out of curiosity does anyone know how well pills keep when you pop them from their blister pack? A dispenser come notification setup would be fantastic.

  10. Michael says:

    Done over Twitter? Hmmm. I smell HIPPA issues there …

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