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Show HN: Memory Pill (hackster.io)
71 points by nickbild 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments





For what it's worth, I think this is a great idea! The execution could use some polish, though.

If I was going to buy/kickstart a project like this, I would want something that had a very long battery life (and that had a visible battery level indicator). The bottle form factor isn't particularly important to me, as long as it's an air-tight container that is fairly lightweight, and as long as it has a child-safe cap.

I would want the batteries to be easily replaceable (none of these little watch batteries that cost a small fortune and are hard to find).

I would want it to work anywhere in my house, but also still track things whenever if I'm taking the bottles with me on a trip or something. The most obvious solution for this is to have it log locally, but then report the log via bluetooth or WiFi whenever a connection (such as my phone) is within range.

I would want it to be relatively cheap (so I could buy a different bottle for each set of pills).

I would want to be able to set up medicine schedules on my iPhone or Android, and then receive notifications whenever I need to take a particular medicine (and escalating alerts if I continually fail to take them).

It would also be nice to have some sort of mechanism for tracking the number of pills put inside the bottle (and then subtracted per the schedule every time the bottle is opened), so I would know when I was getting low and needed to order more medicine/vitamins.

For added bonus: Implement a weight sensor that can detect when the contents of the bottle have changed.


For added bonus: Implement a weight sensor that can detect when the contents of the bottle have changed.

I've got a patent on that - Lol. I actually cofounded a company that is in this space, Medication Adherence. Its a very curious field. Everyone says they really really care about it but its really hard to build a business around. Theres been a lot of different attempts at solving the problem but very few have gained any kind of real traction. This one is a bit like the Pillsy bottle https://www.pillsy.com, but theres plenty more of dosette like solutions (https://www.pilldrill.com) through to dispensers (https://www.lifeline.philips.com/business/medicationdispensi...). We went for a weight based solution but have largely shelved it to focus on other area.


Wow, I was just thinking I couldn't remember if I took my ADHD meds today. Strange how I can remember exactly how long I ended up meditating yesterday but I can't remember something I did five minutes ago.

For me it’s basically a question of whether it was something on “autopilot” or intentional. Same with meds I always struggle with whether I locked the front door. I always do but never can remember.

As a side note you can buy “pill timer” bottles on amazon with a clock counter since they were last opened if you want a quick solution to this instead of the hacking fun. But beware most of the brands and models aren’t child safe.


RE: the timers -- The information isn't always for the person taking the med (think assisted living or an elderly relative), so I think getting the data off the top of the bottle is an improvement.

Thanks for the comment!


I posted the same comment since I hadn’t seen yours. Just to add to this, some brands do have an extra plastic piece that will ostensibly turn it into a child safe bottle.

An old fellow named Jim is having memory troubles and goes to the doctor and the doctor prescribes him medicine.

Jim's friend comes over to his house and says, "Jim I understand you got some medicine for your memory. Tell me, does it work?"

"Oh yes", says Jim. "Works like a charm."

"Well I'd like to get some of that medicine for myself. What's the name of it?"

"Oh the name of it....", says Jim. "I can't remember. What's the name of that flower?"

"Oh I don't know" says Jim's friend. There's so many. Is it a tulip?"

"No. It's that flower you take on a date with a woman."

"Oh is it a carnation?"

"No, no. It's the romantic one. It's red, and long stemmed."

"Oh you must mean a rose!"

"Yes that's it", says Jim. "ROSE WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT MEDICINE THE DOCTOR GAVE ME FOR MY MEMORY?"


You dirty dog!

Is the joke that Rose had been dead for six years and he slowly descended into Alzheimer's because he couldn't bear to be reminded of her loss so he simply willed himself into a disease that would give him some brief respite by making him forget until the cold embrace of death? Because it's pretty funny, if so.

This happens to me around once every month or two. The problem is that I usually take it in the morning right when I get up so I'm still sort of on autopilot. Any activity that I do every day as part of a routine can simply not get committed to memory if I'm thinking about something else.

Usually I just have to think really hard about it or (more likely) wait an hour and see if the morning brain-fog lifts. I don't want to accidentally double up for obvious reasons, but in the worst case, I just skip the AM dose to be sure and take the noon dose a little earlier if it becomes obvious I missed it in the morning.

Nothing like trying to remember if you took your medication to improve poor focus and attention, right? ;)


I do this too, but my window of I-can-still-take-my-meds is shorter because it’s only one dose for the day, and if I take it too late, I’ll be up all night. I’m usually halfway to dropping off the kiddos at daycare when it dawns on me, and I have to race home before going to work.

Yeah...this is why I switched to instant release instead of extended. More things to screw up but preferred the granular control for this exact reason. It works without issue as long as I don't take it too late. Dose is low enough to improve focus and attention without feeling like I'm on "speed" or anything, but it can still keep me from sleeping if I take it too late.

> Strange how I can remember exactly how long I ended up meditating yesterday

Is it, there are surely very few things that one does as consciously, as 'aware', and as 'deliberate' as meditating?


You can actually find pill bottles like this on Amazon for cheap. They’re no frills, just a small lcd on the top that tells you how long it’s been since the bottle was last opened.

I address this in my write up. There are important use cases for getting the data off the bottle top.

Oh absolutely - I wasn’t disparaging your efforts in the least. There are reasons to need something more complex, but sometimes you just need to make sure you don’t take too much of something.

I just did that dance a couple hours ago... Makes the line "I see the main use for Memory Pill as a monitoring device for assisted living patients or elderly relatives" hurt a bit.

Who ever said 27 is too young for assisted living?


Haha. Certainly not the only use. The idea came from my wife--I can't disclose her age, but she is young.

Good timing! -- I hate filling a pill keeper but keep forgetting to take my dose, or forget if I DID already take my dose. So I made a gadget.

I took a 1"x1"x6" piece of wood, put S M T W R F S on the side, drilled 7 holes on top, and I use a thumb screw that I move when I've taken my pills today. A golf tee or nail would also work.


That sounds like a pretty easy/fun daily routine!

I made something like this for my mom who had large B-cell lymphoma, amongst other disheartening diseases. At one point she was on 17 different medications — and no, you don't need to get me started on that.

I wanted to know that she was not only taking her medication but also the correct dosage, when she was opening the bottles, and when she was taking them. A minibar but for meds, basically. I did this not because I'm a control freak but because managing her care was difficult. I also wanted to be able to coordinate the issues she raised with her doctors with more precision than "well she took x last week." I also did it because I was irritated with how frequently she was taking her oxy. Yeah, I guess I was a little of a control freak. :)

From the day she was diagnosed up until the day before she died, I'd like to think being a hacker really benefited her. Two days after her diagnosis, between bouts of cries, I scraped for every article I could find about her disease, parsed out the authors, ran their names through a bunch of residential proxies with headless Chrome, searching for their name and if they were involved in any clinical trials ("+trials"). If they were, I sent them a blanket email asking for a second opinion.

Ultimately, she received very precise care from a resource that wasn't originally available. I like to think benefited her for the long haul, but I suppose we'll never know.

My mom doesn't have cancer anymore. She passed away late October of last year. I named a Ruby framework after her, as writing it was my mental vacation from being her full-time caretaker for the last 75 days of her life.

On second thought, she really hated when I would talk to strangers on the internet. Oh well!

ps. hi mom!


Amazon pill pack has packets with the date on them. A nice low tech solution .

I really do like this project, but have concerns if it were to scale out to regular use:

1) I don't want my medication habits online at all, even if it intended to help me. I'd be more open to a way to run this locally. I expect assisted living centers would, as well.

2) This puts technical points of failure into a process that is already reasonably solved by daily pill containers.


yeah i wouldn't want them saving my data about my medical history

This looks like an interesting and fun project!

For anybody looking for lower-tech (no web service), pre-made solution, TimerCaps work well. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HJCYGX4/


Another similar product: https://www.epill.com/timecap.html

Surprised I had to scroll this far to see TimerCaps, they’re a nice just-enough-technology solution to this problem.

Cool project, but the issue is rather that the US has pill bottles at all. Pretty scary, especially for overdoseable drugs. Other places have moved on blister packs a long time ago.

Isn't that kind of horrible for the environment? The vast majority of pills do not need individual packaging.

What are the benefits for blister packs except overdose protection? Are they recyclable like pill bottles? One of the reasons US uses pill bottles is pharmacies, where pharmacists fill in any amount of pills needed in a bottle, e.g. if you need just 3 pills of really strong pain killer, you get a bottle with three pills. As far as I remember blister packs packaged in a factory and not customizable.

Personally, I use habit tracking app to check in every night to mark I took my pills.


Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not even sure how blister packs help protect against accidental overdose beyond the protection you'd get from just counting the pills in the bottle. In either case, you could accidentally skip a day and double dose later on based on the number of pills remaining, especially if you aren't sure what day you started taking the medication. I can definitely see the benefit of a product that doesn't rely on user reporting to track doses.

The point as I understand/was taught it in school is that the time it would take you to pop out enough* e.g. paracetamol to do really serious lasting harm (vs. 'just' being quite sick or needing stomach pumped) gives a sort of 'cool-down' or re-evaluation period, or requires significant planning, whereas a bottle can be downed impulsively.

(* and that if you're taking them as you go, you'll probably be physically incapable/less inclined to continue far enough after a certain point)


Ah, I hadn't even thought of that, but it makes sense. It certainly can't hurt!

Where I live pharmacies cut blisters with scissors

I significantly prefer blister packs over pill bottles. Blister packs are easier to travel with. They take up less space in my medical cabinet. I can see how many pills I have left without looking inside of an opaque container. I actually would feel safer if my pills were packaged in a factory by a machine than at a pharmacy by a human.

I much prefer pill bottles, i find blisters to be fiddly, especially when they add the paper on top that needs to be peeled off before i can push the pill through the foil (i mean why would they do this)

> especially when they add the paper on top that needs to be peeled off before I can push the pill through the foil

Oh this drives me _nuts_. I ended up keeping a small Leatherman knife in the bathroom to slice through the paper/foil in the middle of the pack and peel the covering to each side.


Blister packs are commonly used in the US as well - especially for OTC or brand name products. They aren't commonly used by pharmacist/chemists by default. But all the big chain pharmacies now offer blister-pack services to large multi-pill regimens - usually at no additional cost. For example, CVS calls this SimpleDose.

There was a company called pillsy[1] that used to make something similar, though it appears that they pivoted to do other connected medical devices[2].

[1] https://www.pillsy.com/ [2] https://www.optimize.health/


Shame, this would be very useful! I am not that handy with stuff, it would be cool to buy a complete solution.

There was an effort called GlowCaps that attempted to productize this years ago. Have no context in this space but not sure if this is a better mechanism or pillpack style drug delivery (self contained packets of medicine)

that’s interesting but it’s pretty rare that you only need to take one medication. (it’s also interesting how this behaves if you can’t remember and/or open the bottle multiple times)

what most people end up doing is using a pill organizer (per days or per days+ampm). this way you can by visually inspecting the organizer (most are transparent) if you took your pills.

i think this could be coupled with a smart pill organizer to send you reminders if time for a specific slot has passed and you didn’t take your pills.


This is a problem that can also be solved with a pill container, at least for longer term meds taken at regular intervals.

I could see this being handy for as-needed meds, however


Or use a webcam which only records if there is movement (a lot of free software exists to do this).

I'm surprised that pharmaceutical companies don't hawk IoT pill bottles. People would consume more medicine.


Time to take your opioids! You're on a 20 day streak. Keep living your best life :^) Your next bottle is on its way.

Remember, talk to your doctor if you're still in pain and they can discuss if a higher dose is right for you.


I guess we're close to reaching IoT pills...

Post with text instead of an URL have a penalty here so it is more difficult that they reach the front page. It is better to submit the URL and add a comment in case you have to make an important remark.

In this case, I think it is not necessary to make a comment if you add the subtitle in the title. Something like "Memory Pill: passively records the last time a medication bottle was opened"

The guidelines ask to use the original title, but you can use the subtitle in these kind of cases where the title is not very descriptive. I just cut it so it has less than 80 characters.


Thanks. I appreciate the advice--makes good sense.



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