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This robotic dispenser will tell you if you forget to take your pills

Arduino TeamMay 23rd, 2023

Many types of medications (such as anti-depressants like SSRIs) can have a very negative effect if they aren’t taken on a regular basis. Even taking them a few hours late can harm a person’s mood and cause physical discomfort. But remembering to take pills at the proper time can be tricky — even setting an alarm isn’t foolproof, because you can turn it off without actually taking a pill. That’s why M. Bindhammer is building a 3D-printed robotic pill dispenser that will tell people if they forget to take their medicine.

M. Bindhammer’s design reflects his own needs: he has to take one pill in the morning and another in the evening. He suffers from bipolar disorder and missing the schedule by even a couple of hours can have consequences. To ensure that he adheres to that schedule, this robot dispenses two pills a day and will demand attention if M. Bindhammer forgets. It has 14 chambers, so M. Bindhammer can load up a full week’s worth of medication at once for convenient long-term use.

While the project isn’t complete yet, M. Bindhammer has finished the mechanical design and worked out most of the circuitry. The 14 chambers sit around a wheel torso turned by a continuous rotation servo motor, with a second servo motor that opens a door underneath the current chamber to allow a pill to drop down. An Arduino Due board with a custom breakout shield — which also integrates a DS3231 precision RTC — controls those servos and monitors a capacitive touch sensor in the base so it knows when the user picks up a pill. The Arduino will be able to provide feedback through an OLED screen face and a speaker connected to a speech synthesis module. When the robot is done, those will let the Arduino display a warning and emit an audio reminder if M. Bindhammer doesn’t take a pill when he should.


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