Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Smart Pill Bottle Prevents Tampering

A team of engineers at King Abdulla University of Science and Technology (KAUST), in Saudi Arabia have engineered a smart pill bottle that will send a wireless alert when it detects tampering, potential overdose, or unsafe storage conditions. The pill bottle does this through the use of a stretch sensor composed of tiny silver particles sandwiched between two layers of adhesive copper tape. In it's normal state, the material is nonconductive, however when it's pressed by a person's finder the tape activates and sends a signal to an external reader. 

 

“Similar devices have been used in flat panel displays, but we’ve made them simple to build and easy to use by almost anyone,” says Sherjeel Khan doctoral student at KAUST.

 

 

From the KAUST article: "The researchers used their technology to create a smart pill bottle to help fight the problem of prescription drug abuse. After 3D-printing a lid that uses light-emitting diodes to count the number of pills dispensed, they taped paper-based humidity and temperature sensors to its underside. The bottle was then sealed with an outer layer of conductive tape that acts as a touch sensor.

If someone attempts to break into the bottle, or the insides become dangerously moist, a flexible control module inside the bottle analyzes the signals and delivers warnings to cell phones via a Bluetooth connection. The conductive tape could be used on its own or as part of a modular sensor system, and so Hussain envisions it could help groups looking for quick tests of innovative health sensors.

This sensor development that is easy to build also opens up broader possibilities for researchers. 'If you give researchers a 'do it yourself opportunity,' there is a good chance they will use it to expand the horizon of electronics and empower humanity with better technology,' Hussain adds."

 

Read more about the smart pill bottle that prevents tampering at KAUST.