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Smart Pill Box Wins TI Beagle Board Open Source Design Challenge

The progression of debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s can be slowed with help from modern medicine. One hurdle an Alzheimer’s patient may face, however, is remembering to take that medicine.

That’s an issue Project Smart Pill Box attempts to solve. Biomedical engineering undergrad Jackie Leverett along with her friend Zach Wasson, an electrical engineering major, entered the Texas Instruments Beagle Board Open Source Design Challenge, and the result of their collaboration is a computer program that reminds patients to take medication using face recognition for verification.

Their project beat out ten others submitted by students at The University of Texas at Austin. Leverett and Wasson will split a $3,000 prize from Texas Instruments. Additionally, their Smart Pill Box gained the attention of Popular Science, who featured a story on their website.

“The idea of our design is to provide assistance to patients suffering from memory loss while giving them greater autonomy,” Leverett says.

Project Smart Pill Box and all of the other designs in the competition had to incorporate the use of a Beagle Board, a single board computer produced by Texas Instruments for open source hardware and software development.

Because the Beagle Board is meant for open source development, Leverett and Wasson say there is potential to increase the Pill Box’s capabilities in the future.

“The really interesting thing about open source and this competition,” says Leverett, “is that the creative possibilities are so vast.”

The Smart Pill Box’s security could be enhanced with the addition of live Internet streaming for another person to verify medicine is taken or with text or email notifications if a dose is missed.

Texas Instrument’s Design Challenge and Leverett’s and Wasson’s Smart Pill Box demonstrate how technology such as live streaming and electronic communications can transcend into healthcare.