Industrial - Honours
Pill-Time is a wearable pill dispensing time device which improves the experience of taking medication for Parkinson’s patients. The Pill-Time device sets reminders for patients to take medication at the optimal times of their day while also gathering and storing data allowing for secondary medical users to access information on the patient which allows them to provide accurate dosages & optimal medical advice to help reduce NMS in Parkinson’s.
• Patients tend to forget their medication without reminders from caretakers or alerts.
• Patients may take their, medication too early or late from the optimal medically advised times.
• Overdosing or underdosing can cause mental challenges which can negatively impact their day.
• There can be a heavy reliance on nurses and caretakers in caring or domestic settings
• Medication plays a significant role in reducing/ sustaining NMS in PD.
Pill-Time is both a handled and wearable product centred around simplifying the experience of medication in Parkinson’s Disease. The design is dual function with both information & interaction components. The interaction is the filling & dispensing of medication while the information is the data gathering & storing health device. The device sets reminders for medication along main intervals in a day from breakfast in the morning to dinner at night. This addresses the issues of patients forgetting to take medication on time when not relying on nurses and caretakers. Having reminders allows patients to take medication accordingly which helps optimize the effects on NMS in PD. Pill-Time allows patients to have periods of independence which improves the mental state of mind. This also allows them to continuously be monitored on their sleeping, breathing, heart rate and medication intake for medical professional analysis and prescription.
“The days I forget to take my medication bring on terrible symptoms”(PD Patient, 2021)
The charging pad is an additional component for powering the Pill-Time device. The device is a magnetic pad that allows for effortless placement to begin charging Pill-Time. This allows for overnight charge ready to use in the morning for a full day. The pad is a long slim design with enough surface area to place Pill-Time over the top. The pad gets electricity from the wall through a USB-C cable to a wall adapter. This allows for lighting fast charging for overnight charging and daily charging during patient rest periods. The tangible element of the pad is a glowing orange light which indicates the charging port is operational and a slim blue light which indicates Pill-Time is connected correctly on the charging pad. Once Pill-Time is a full-on battery the slim blue light will be replaced with a pulsing green light.
The beginning of a new realm of medical wearable technologies is with Pill-Time. This device specializes in two major areas of dealing with Parkinson’s symptoms from physical and mental approaches. Pill-Time is a lightweight informative comfortable device that delivers a range of necessities for Parkinson’s symptoms. Medication monitoring and reminders haven’t been designed easier than this as pills are stored on the arm of the patient while being easily accessible throughout all times of the day. The reminders act as an unlocked for pill access as patience can’t access their pills until the time for the pill slot is reached. This avoids patience taking medication too early which can cause a longer down period of mental issues. Pill-Time dispenses pills while also tracking data on major health indicators which can provide beneficial information to medical staff. The aspect of data tracking isn’t apparent in pill dispenser devices and the pill dispensing isn’t apparent in health band devices. Pill-Time is a healthy balance of both worlds that results in benefits to the primary and secondary users. What is achieved overall is a universal ecosystem with a domestic and medical settings with enhanced individual user experiences.
The Pill-Time consists of interchangeable components which make up the system style operation of the product. Each part of the ecosystem plays a role in the body of functionality.
1. Wall Charger & Cable
2. Charge Doc
3. Arm Pad Wearable
4. Pill Interaction UI
5. Time Information UI
The Wall Charger & Cable act as one component to power the Charging doc which is inserted by a C-type USB connection in the side of the Doc. This Doc acts as a portable charging area that powers the battery to the Wearable arm pad. This Pad has two functions, the first is to act as a comfort element around the frail arms of Parkinson’s patience and the second is to power the Pill and Time UI. Each component works through one another in a 1 to 5 step variation which is a highly necessary uncomplicated design.
The Pill-Time device is made of three operation pieces that allow for both pill dispensing and data tracking. The information UI is allowing major health indicator monitoring on the patient while the Interactive UI is storing and dispensing medication for optimal windows to ensure sustainable on/off periods. This allows for patients to maintain their symptoms throughout the day making it easier to cope with obstacles they may face in daily tasks. This allows grants patience the desired independence while also allowing for caretaker monitoring for safety. The daily activity of patience is recorded through the information UI tracking data metrics specifically heart rate, steps taken, sleep and medication taken at the exact time. The Interactive UI is designed more for both the patient and their caretakers as the pills are stored by a carrier and taken throughout the day by the absence of a career.
The Charging Doc makes the charging experience an effortless one as the user can place the wearable arm pad over the top of the charging doc to begin powering the pad’s battery. The pad contains a lithium-ion battery which has a charge sensor on the bottom which when placed over the doc sensors and begins charging. Once the pad is placed over the doc a blue LED strip of light will pulse and once completely charged turn green. This is a form of tangible interaction which communicates to the user input/outputs of the charging experience.
The Interactive UI is a time operated pill dispenser which holds pills making them easily accessible in any situation while also reminding patients to take their medication without reliance on nurses. This makes relocating in domestic and medical setting a more independent experience for Parkinson’s patients.
Pill-Time can be given to Parkinson’s patients who require frequent check-ups at hospitals or a lot of nurse/ family attention. Once they wear it around with whatever they do they are gathering and sending data over to medical professionals who without check-ups have a good idea of the state the patient is in. They can see this through patterns in sleep, heart rate, steps taken, blood pressure levels.
Over a period when medication needs to be reduced Pill-Time can be adjusted at a pharmacy to both collect current data and adjust medication for time moving forwards.
Each visit to these medical centres is logged to keep track of the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. Each pill set of medication is documented and scheduled till the next necessary visit. All records are kept for suggested medically advised prescriptions to each patient. This helps reduce or slow down the progressive symptoms of Parkinson’s in later stages.
The design process is creating a wearable product that reflects the necessities of Parkinson’s patients through the identification of issues and challenges they face in daily living. This can be used to generate criteria of exactly what services the patient needs the most for optimal user-centre design. This is explained best in the double diamond method which has a constant flow of converging and diverging of concepts and ideas while filtering all the problems in PD living.
The simple form of this is beginning with analysing solutions to the problem present with Parkinson’s as the expansion of ideas evaluates the effectiveness of each idea when drawn against criteria specific to Parkinson’s. Through this process, the most suitable design will form to suit the solution. Wearable technology with intractable elements and data tracking is Pill-Time in a quick overview. Pill-Time extracts the unnecessary costs of appearance and sticks to the bare bones of functionality in its design. The focus is designing for Parkinson’s both direct and indirectly without drawing attention towards surroundings. To achieve a compact design for comfort and ease of use, Pill-Time had to be laid out quite simple with its incorporation of dispensing pills and a touch screen. The entire design stems from these principles which lead to the overall finished form & functionality of Pill-Time. To understand the user, experience many models were made to test movement and tightness when wearing the device and tilting arm. These models allowed the shape, weight, and visualisation of space to be accurate and universally understood to Parkinson’s users. The combination of early-stage foam models and later stage solid refined 3D prints presented the respectful product.
Moving on from the practical realism of model making was the digital representation of Pill-Time from CAD manufacturing, rendering, system integration and presentation delivery. Renders were done in fusion 360 render mode which allows for a really detailed version of the product in a light-filled environment. Designing the models in a variety of settings allowed for a great representation for a clear understanding of the design turnout.
The design validation stage is the meeting of agreement between the design process & chosen developed concept. User testing is the means by which the concept has been placed against the necessary design criteria which help to validate the effectiveness of the developing concept. This is best for exceeding the expectations of both the designer themselves alongside the users of the product. Once the requirements for users are met the design has validated itself moving on to enhancing the experience for its intended group of users.
In collecting feedback from users between developing stages, many models of selected components were printed and assembled to dissect the experience on a micro-scale. Assembled parts can then be used to place the product in a larger scope. This macro-level shows the product in a more integrated system networking with different components to deliver its purpose. During this pandemic state of living social distancing has been heavily emphasized which makes it difficult for nurses to continuous move around filling rooms to attend to patients. Pill-Time allows for minimal face to face check-ups as the digitalised information provides enough information of the current stage of the patient. In the interview with the PD patient, they expressed multiple times how they enjoy pushing themselves to exercise while also having independence these are the two services Pill-Time provides.
“I think forced exercise is a great thing to design for.” | Parkinson’s Carer
“Have an apple watch which I keep track of my steps” | Parkinson’s Patient
“I am sometimes busy in the day, forget to take my medication” | Parkinson’s patient
Many survey responses also showed interest in a wearable health-tracking medication product that focuses on exercise + medication to reduce/ slow down NMS in PD. The patient found being able to access medication the most important aspect of the entire intended design. In terms of detail testing, Pill-Time models were developed in two separate ways. The first focuses more on data tracking with Arduino components, while the other was more on the size, shape, the weight of the actual designed product. In the early weeks, small codes were made up in Arduino which detected light sleep and deep sleep using sound sensory technology. This was difficult to get accurate readings when paired up against the sleep tracking on a smartphone, however, the readings were around 5-10 minutes off which isn’t a huge misrepresentation of information. Multiple attempts to get the heart rate readings to work ended up fruitless. This was also an issue with the blood pressure checking feature.
These setbacks cut time as there were some intended features that we’re unable to work by certain deadlines, therefore they were left out. The ergonomic aspects were frequently tested from the weight of the body to the feel of the edges. The length and width of the product was something that took a few weeks to understand as compacting the design made it harder to use but more comfortable to wear. To test this to a fair accuracy users would wear sandpaper underneath the strap and if they felt too much friction, they would take off the strap. This is attempting to simulate the soft skin PD patients have. Users also only used one hand to extract pills and interact with the display screen. This tested the simplistic body movement required to use Pill-Time. During testing, many aspects of Pill-Time were broken down and tested individually and with other components to really target the points of discomfort to fix before continuing to later-stage development. Some of the tests included:
o A range of user arm widths from skinny to medium to bulky.
o The strap material was also tested at the same & different cut lengths to find optimal comfort.
o The bottom surface of Pill-Time was also changed over time from a flat to a more ergonomic friendly form which sits nicely over bones in the arm and wrist of skinny users. These issues weren’t apparent in users with more skin around the bones.
o The wrist strap joint height was also altered from Pill-Time v1-v3. The join strap began too wide which caused a lost fit around the sides of the wrist in skinny user arms.
o The way in which the strap connects was also integrated with slightly varied materials and designs from standard clips to using magnets.
o The front and the rear surface of Pill-Time was considered when wiggling wrist around while tightly strapped. The design was changed a few times to get the right shape around the wrist bones during adduction abduction, extension and flexion in the wrist muscles.
The production of Pill-Time uses Australian Manufacturing components in most of its electrical parts with 3D printed body parts. Customizing 3D printed parts can add to cost however the design of Pill-Time is simple which means it doesn’t require too much manufacturing work to add holes and support pieces which adds to the manufacture time and cost. Pill-Time avoids this with the simple flat 3D base and standard curved edges. Pill-Time packaging is standard with foam filling to protect the state of the glass screen during transport. The packaging uses enough space to store, and seal closed the entire Pill-Time set of components from the Pill-Time device to its wall charger, cord, pad, dispenser, and touch screen interface. This form of packaging will be distributed towards medical facilities such as pharmacies, clinics, hospitals etc. Pill-Time is a one purchase device that can be adjusted during medical appointments with a doctor or nurse. Pill-Time doesn’t come with any present medication because all medication is different for each patient therefore to specialize towards the dosage and prescription medication is exclusive to off-shelf packaging.
Costs- The simplistic packaging reduces cost. Details of costs are provided in the B.O.M below.
Pill-Time uses Arduino level Bluetooth technology which has its limits with connectivity range, however, it can connect to an android app that helps track sleep data through the sound sensors. Pill-Time has a C-type USB cord which allows for fast charge and long-lasting battery life. The dispenser component is attachable and removable to make filling medication easier for nurses or patients themselves. Although not completely advised patients who seek more independence are able to fill their own medication however the dangers of overdosing the slots are concerning and should be treated with heavy caution.
The commencing research document has focused on Parkinson’s Disease living through the eyes & experiences of family, researchers, medical staff, and patience themselves. Following the rigorous filter of sources in the literature review to research gaps identified to developments plans, the document has contained a wide variety of peer review sources on treatments and utilisation of wearable technologies to enhance Parkinson’s living. The early surfacing question has been answered in the finale of the research project on PD. The research conducted outside peer-reviewed sources in the literature review was a triangulation of primary data in the form of interviews and surveys. The data was analysed and evaluated to address the overlaying issues with PD which needed to be designed around.
Primary data was gathered through voice recording an interview and the extraction of responses from an online survey platform. This data was used to establish design themes which Pill-Time would eventually be developed around from social community and desired independence to medication monitoring. During the filtration of the primary data, many issues were on display such as the following:
o In domestic settings patients feel a lack of independence when their carer or family hand them or remind them to take medication
o Patient’s who aren’t often monitored by family forget their medication
o Patients are likely to forget about their medication when attending attention towards daily tasks.
o There are difficulties for medical staff to monitor medication intake in some patient’s
o Patients who use smartphones to track data feel there is a missing element to achieve further independence.
o In Parkinson’s living smartphones isn’t wearable which makes them easy to forget around domestic setting
o Health bands help the patience motivation to exercise however it doesn’t resolve any medication monitoring issues.
A multitude of design opportunities has been mentioned and discussed showcasing the beautiful chaos of the double diamond design process. The design proposal was used to the manifestation of Pill-Time a wearable medication monitor which tracks major health indicators for Parkinson’s living. Pill-Time ticks the necessary boxes for enhancing Parkinson’s through wearable technology.
The intention of the research document is to provide a library of credible information that can be used in recommended future studies into enhancing Parkinson’s using wearable technology or some future trend method. The direction isn’t important, but the use of the information is what should be handled with respect and care for Parkinson’s disease living.
Dominic has a burning passion for designing products centred around impaired users, focusing on tackling the issues in the physical and mental barriers. He really wants to change lives through the development of aiding products.