Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Talking Drug Labels -RFID TECHNOLOGY: Drugs that speak to you

Ever have that patient who either refuses or accidentally misses the appropriate protocol for taking their prescribed medicines?

Or....need to take a pill? And simply cannot remember when?

An innovation aimed primarily but not exclusively for the blind will soon allow anyone to follow the instructions when taking medicine just by listening to the drug, said Chamnarn Punyasai, head of the Thailand IC-Design Incubator (TIDI) unit at the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre.

TIDI is now developing what it calls a speaking drug label, technology that integrates radio-frequency-identification (RFID) technology and voice recording to allow drug labels to talk to users. It will tell the name of the medicine and also give instructions on its use and information about it’s quality and possible side effects.

Chamnarn said the technology was developed to initially serve those who were visually impaired. “Once we finish the prototypes we will give them to the Assistive Technology Centre to test before developing them in mass volume for the blind,” said Chumnarn. “With this technology, the blind, for example, can take any medicine with no need to ask for help. Once they pick up the medicine, it will talk to them.”

A small RFID chip will be attached to the drug label. To make the drug talk, users just use an RFID reader to get information from the label and the reader will match the information with a drug directory in a small database embedded in the reader.

In a few seconds, when the reader gets the name of drug, it will “tell” users what they need to know, including what the drug is, what it is used for, when it will expire, how to take it, and any precautions that apply. Chamnarn says TIDI was developing an RFID reader that will be small – about the same size as a mobile phone – and weigh 200 to 300 grams.

This will be especially good for the elderly and/or some of us who are just too forgetful!

Hat Tip: Gizmodo

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