Leverett's Smart Pill Box Featured on Popular Science

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 undergradruate student Jackie Leverett along with 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 and uses face recognition for verification.

Theirs is one of ten projects submitted by students at The University of Texas at Austin at the end of January, and the only one to be featured on Popular Science’s website. All of the teams had to come up with a concept and design an innovation using a Beagle Board, a single board computer produced by Texas Instruments for open source hardware and software development.

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

Leverett and Wasson were working in a limited time frame within the confines of the competition, but because the Beagle Board is meant for open source development, they say the potential to increase the Pill Box’s capabilities is great.

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.

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

The team that wins the competition receives a $3,000 prize, and judging is based entirely by vote, which lasts through February 10, 2011.

See the project featured on Project Science or vote here.