According to Ma, 23, who is from the Cincinnati suburb of Montgomery and who will begin work with the Los Angeles firm, Variate Labs, upon graduation in June, one key advantage of the students' design is that it is low-tech, simple and inexpensive, especially compared to currently available options for the visually impaired when it comes to solutions for distinguishing different medication.
She explained, "Options that are currently on the market are more expensive and complex, dependent on technology and requiring a more expensive outlay on the part of the end user to purchase them."
These include a wi-fi connected prescription bottle cap that glows when it's time to take medicine; however, it does not function where there is no wi-fi. Another option is a radio frequency identification (RFID) monitor that provides a vocal description of medication when a bottle is passed over it, and a third is an audio recorder that requires the pharmacist to record verbal instructions that are played back when a bottle is placed atop the recorder.
According to Broerman, 23, of Carmel, Ind., a consumer using a scripTalk device (the RFID device referenced above) would need to spend about $200 for the device.
"There are a lot of great technology-based solutions on the market already, but those are out of reach for users who can't afford the time or money to learn these systems. We interviewed a number of blind and visually impaired users of medications, and the cost for an option like the RFID device is out of reach for many of them. In fact, many of those we interviewed had to develop their own custom solutions like rubber bands around a specific bottle to meet their needs to differentiate medications," said Broerman, adding that these custom solutions usually didn't go far enough in meeting the needs of the users.
Ma agreed, "It was powerful to hear the stories of those we interviewed in th
|Contact: M.B. Reilly|
University of Cincinnati