A Whole New Concept for Medication Management
After researching the market for suitable pill timers, a start-up company decided to produce a multi-prescription pill timer that could remind the owner to take different pills at different times of the day. The design had to ensure compliance with a physician’s treatment program, keep track of up to 20 different dosage times a day, and remind the owner of other important, routinely scheduled activities.
The client required a very low cost design that was easily producible in the United States using robotic assembly equipment to eliminate high labor costs. The design also had to be easily programmed by elderly patients without decreasing the number of features that could be included.
A demonstration unit was initially required to raise funds for the production of the product. The design also required masking a custom part, and it had to be comprehensively tested by the targeted end users before acquiring expensive tooling.
MTSI used a CMOS 4-bit microcomputer with built-in display drivers for an LCD display. Program development was done on a personal computer. An IBM PC-based program was developed to prove the new concept of using just a Pill, Time, and Set button for all functions. The button-press sequences were proven before the final program was developed.
The PC was then used to drive an in-circuit emulator. Four-bit assembly language code was developed and tested exhaustively using the emulator and the LCD display.
The system was then shown to retailers and doctors. Minor changes were then made to the code based on their inputs. The code was then released for masking into the final, low-cost part. The design is now in volume production. The cost of the unit, including the case and batteries, is under $10 in 10k piece volume.