Here at Medgaget we are fanatical about all kinds of hi-tech gadgetry as it applies to healthcare. However, some of the most interesting and thoughtful innovations we see can often be surprisingly low-tech. A new prototype prescription-medicine pill bottle for blind and visually impaired people is a case in point. Two University of Cincinnati design students, Alex Broerman and Ashley Ma have designed their “Inclusive Bottles for the Blind” in order to make identification and use of pill bottles more straightforward and affordable than existing hi-tech solutions.
The bottles were designed after carrying out a survey of existing products and end-users identified a number of limitations with available pill bottles. According to the press release, the key features of the design comprise:
- A lid on “hinges” that flips open, as lost caps are a problem for the visually impaired. And twist caps can be a challenge for the elderly. (At the same time, the students’ flip lid is child proof.)
- A small rectangular bottle body, 2-by-2 inches wide and 3-inches tall, that allows a user to easily reach in and pick out a pill or two without the need to pour out a larger supply into the palm for subsequent selection of the required dosage. In addition, this “stout” design prevents the bottle from tipping over and spilling the medication.
- A distinct texture on the bottle’s flip lid. There are eight distinct textures available. Each distinct texture would correspond with a different medication. Importantly, the distinct textures are not Braille, as only 10 percent of the blind and visually impaired can read Braille.
- The lid would also sport a dramatic, deep color – different medication differentiated by a different-colored lid. The reason for this is that many visually impaired individuals do have limited sight, such that they can make out a strong color that is close to the eye.
- A “fail-safe” audio button on the lid could be pressed for an audio statement on the medicinal contents.
The whole project has been extremely well documented over at the project’s blog where you can get a great snapshot of what kind of thought goes into redesigning a medical device with a user-centered focus. Alex and Ashley have applied for a provisional patent on their design, and the project has already landed them 1st prize at the “Innov8 For Health” business concept competition.