Back in January 2014 I was at a meetup of Baby Boomer Makers at TechShop in San Carlos, California. We were going around the table, each taking a turn to talk about projects we'd like to do. Bob spoke up to describe a problem his elderly mother was having - she couldn't remember to take her medicines on time every day. Each week Bob found that his mother had either forgotten to take her pills one day, or she had run out too soon because she had double-dosed. Both these problems are frightening. Bob is a retired electrical engineer and said to the group, "I have an idea for a device to help elderly people keep on their medicine schedule. I can make the electronics, but I don't have a way to make a case for the project."

His story really resonated with me. I've been a member of TechShop for several years and have learned to use a number of the sophisticated computer controlled fabrication machines that they have for members to use. I looked at Bob. "I can do that. If you make two sets of electronics, I'll make two cases and we can trade." Smiling at each other we started a great collaboration.

Six months and many prototypes later, the Pill Reminder was born. Bob set up his mother with one of the first units. Each week after that he checked and found that his mother was taking her pills twice a day as she should! There were no more cases of double-dosing or forgetting to take them. She was 100% compliant! It's now been two months and his mother continues to take her pills as she should. Bob and I are very pleased.

We decided early on to share our final designs with the world using one of the Creative Commons licenses. And now we want to share the Pill Reminder with the world through this Instructable.

We have detailed plans and assembly instructions and the Arduino source code available on the web at


And the complete package of instructions and software is included in the last step of this Instructable.

In this Instructable I will highlight some of the build process so that you have a good idea of what needs to be done.

Let's get started!

p.s. Since we created the pill reminder I have also done an investigation of pill reminder apps for smart phones. I evaluated a number of them and came up with one that I feel is the best. You can read my analysis of the best pill reminder app. The article also explains the criteria I used to evaluate the apps.

Step 1: What Exactly Does the Pill Reminder Do?

The Pill Reminder is an Arduino controlled device to prompt a person when it is time to take their pills. The Pill Reminder has 14 pill compartments. Each compartment corresponds to one day of the week. Each day of the week has two compartments, one for morning pills and one for evening pills. Each pill compartment has an LED above it. Twice each day, morning and evening, the Pill Reminder will turn on the appropriate LED to indicate which pill compartment should be taken.

The Pill Reminder has a real time clock to keep track of the day and time.

It also has a proximity sensor. During each pill taking interval, the first time a person approaches the Pill Reminder it will cause the currently illuminated LED to blink. We hope this attracts the user's attention.

The Pill Reminder is intended to be used by someone who has trouble remembering to take their pills each day. We intend for someone else to fill the pill compartments each week. To make this easier the pill compartments are on trays that can be removed. This allows the care giver to have a second set of pill compartments that they fill up and then can quickly replace the empty ones.

Released under a Creative Commons license, you are free to make one yourself.

<p>Voted! I need one of these!!</p>
<p>Thanks a lot!</p>
<p>Voted! Excellent Instructable</p>
<p>Thanks for your support!</p>
<p>Very nice! Just happened to see one at the mid penninsula techshop yesterday!</p>
<p>Excellent! I'm glad to hear that the Pill Reminder is getting some visibility there.</p>
Thankyou for this absolutely fantastic instructable. It might in fact save lives!
<p>Thanks for the kind words. It would be fantastic to know that people were living longer because of something we do as a community of makers.</p>
Some of us have to make sure we do take medication every day good idea
<p>Yes, it can get confusing. Imagine how hard it is for someone with some normal old age confusion. The older you get the more pills they want you to take, and yet the harder it is to do it correctly! </p>
<p>can u sent final code???pls bro</p>
<p>c u github?</p><p>https://github.com/TeamPracticalProjects/PillReminder</p>
<p>it was full with clear explanation</p>
<p>it was full with clear explanation</p>
<p>hey, if you dont mind,can i have the full description and code for this system . I am working it for my final year project .</p>
Hi,<br><br>Nice to hear from you Aisyah. What part are you missing?<br><br>Can I ask what you mean by &quot;working it&quot; for your final year project?<br><br>Jim
<p>smart and useful!</p>
Smart idea! I really like this project. Thanks for shearig :)
Hi,<br><br>Thanks for the comment. It's always nice to hear that someone likes my work. <br><br>Jim
<p>Just What The Doctor Ordered. </p>
<p>I also voted! What a handy thing. I have a teen daughter who must take meds twice a day and insists she is old enough to remember herself, though has yet to prove it! HAHAHAH</p>
<p>Excellent, have plan to make one for my parents one machine, two people and should dispense tablet 3 times a day.</p>
<p>When you finish your build, please post photos here so we can all see it. Sounds like a great idea.</p>
<p>You have inspired me. I'm converting the design into AutoDesk Inventor. I'll add the files to this project when I'm done. Having a parametric model of the case will make it easier for you to modify the design.</p>
<p>Excellent. One minor suggestion, find an old microwave and use that loud, annoying beeper as a reminder. That can't be ignored!</p>
<p>Or perhaps a cow bell. Can't have too much cow bell.</p>
Here's a YouTube:<br><br>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM2O8RPZcuk<br><br>
<p>Thanks. Then there's this</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfD9fWt8hrQ</p>
<p>Wonderful invention. It has so many possibilities. I would add a voice reminder (nag) to fill up the containers. I wonder if there's a reasonably-priced touch sensor that can pick up the weight of the lightest pill.</p>
<p>I wondered if there's a weight sensor that has the required sensitivity. Something like is used in those 100 gram kitchen scales. The design document we include in the package has a section for &quot;future ideas.&quot; It would be good to add this to it.</p>
<p>I m currently working on this pill reminder project using pic microcontroller specially for old people</p>
<p>That's an interesting idea. You could build upon our case design - it's released under a CC license.</p>
<p>For those people who need an immediate solution, or are unable to replicate this wonderful device, my wife and I both use and recommend an App called MediSafe Meds &amp; Pill Reminder it is for Android or Apple devices. </p>
<p>In rev 2 I would suggest adding a small piezo buzzer as well.</p>
<p>Good idea. Do you think the buzzer should go off just once per period? Or should it continue to sound throughout? Or maybe a button that the user presses when they take the medication and that turns off the buzzer?</p>
I think it should sound for something like 5 seconds every minute until the user presses a button to mark that they consumed the pills. Or maybe do something like increasing frequency since some medicines need to be taken at a specific time range.
<p>What a wonderful idea! I used to build electronic devices, toys and gadgets, but not able to do so anylonger. My eyes and hands are just not as good as they used to be. Does anyone make these units already assembled and ready to sell to someone who needs two of these units? Please let me know if so....</p><p>Thanks...Bill Miller - billmiller1@sbcglobal.net</p>
<p>Hi Bill. Thanks for the comment. I know of a couple of people who have talked about making them to sell, but the current product is not the best for mass production - there's a lot of labor in each one. However, I sent your comment on to the folks I know; maybe one of them will contact you. Or - maybe someone reading this Instructable would like to make a couple for Bill?</p>
<p>Great things happen when tallents are combined ! Excellent project and thanks for sharing !</p><p>Build_it_Bob</p>
<p>Thanks for the kind words Bob. The two of us really clicked working on this project. We're trying to find the basis for our next collaboration.</p>
<p>I made something similar that reminds Grandma 4 times a day to take her pills. If she doesn't take her pills within a few minutes, the gadget emails her caregiver. My next steps are to add led's to make sure Grandma takes the right pill.</p><p>http://littlebits.cc/projects/grandma-s-pill-box</p>
<p>That's a cool project. I'll bet your grandma is proud to see you do this kind of thing. Maybe you could write it up as an Instructable.</p>
<p>I need one of these! Could it be made to accommodate a 3x-a-day schedule?</p><p> </p>
<p>Of course anything is possible, but... You face some challenges. The case would have to be modified to hold three sets of dispensers; that's some CorelDraw work. Second, you'd have to modify the Arduino shield to drive another set of LEDs; not impossible, but even more work. Then you'd have to modify the Arduino code to handle these new LEDs. </p><p>Realistically, you would be better off making two Pill Reminders and just modifying the Arduino code. You'd modify the code in each to have new on/off times for the LEDs.</p>
<p>I could definetly use a project like this lol.. I have a hard time remembering if I have taken my meds for the day even after taking the same medication for 25 years lol..</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: A guy who likes to learn things. A lot of things. As fast as possible. In a jumble of activity if need be.
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