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In the paper of “PMD: Designing a Portable Medicine Dispenser for Persons Suffereing from Alzheimer’s Disease”, Beer et. al presented a prototype of medicine dispenser to the Alzheimer’s patients as well as the caregivers. The responses from the caregivers are positive.

This is similar to my FYP concept such that the device for assisted living does not just cater for the patient to live independently but to spare more thoughts on the caregivers as well. New means of technological solutions have to be implemented to improve the quality of lives of those people with special needs (elderly or patients). One of the area of attention is the intake of a right amount of right medicine at the right time for these people.

It was also mentioned that the current tools available may not be adequate to provide them with this convenience. As the elderly may not be able to operate those tools independently, often they need a caregiver whom may also be of middle aged. The caregivers may not be a technology savvy and hence care has to be given to provide adequate support to them.

In this paper, the authors proposed a new medicine dispenser design which not only help the Alzheimer’s patients but also help their caregivers to prepare the right amount of right medicine for the patients.

It was found from the feedback of the Alzheimer’s patients and the caregivers that there are several basic requirements:

  1. Mobility
  2. Customizability
  3. Accessible system

This lead to a few key points of design – portable, user profile, user-friendly interface. I like the idea of “Automatic Wall Dispenser” which can be further broken down into a fixed dispenser mounting on the wall and a portable dispenser which the user can bring around to avoid interruption to their medicine intake schedule when they are outside the home. It can be programmed to dispense a few dosages of medicines (for a maximum leave home duration of 48 hours) into a tray which the user can bring around easily. There is a LCD screen displaying the user interface and a camera to sense the presence of user.

The camera is a good idea. Face recognition can also be implemented in my prototype in order to identify the user (patient/caregiver) and capture the time that the user collects the medicine.

I also learnt that when we are making a user-centered design, it is important to receive feedback from the end-users. The developing process can start with a low fidelity prototype and create a few scenarios to let users to test the prototype. From there, errors and missing steps can be identified and improvements can be made. In Software Engineering, 50% of the effort and time has to be spent on testing!

Reference: PMD: Designing a Portable Medicine Dispenser for Persons Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease by Roel de Beer, Roy Keijers, Suleman Shahid, Abdullah Al Mahmud, Omar Mubin

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