Challenge: Pill Dispenser
University Partner: San Diego State University
Student Team: Erika Antonio, Tatiana Gonzalez, Karen Morales, Dani Phan, and, Tasha Stephens
Faculty Advisor: Scott Shaffar
QL+ Program Manager: Annmarie Orr
The pill dispenser project was sponsored by Quality of Life Plus (QL+) and the project
mentors from San Diego State University and QL+ were Scott Shaffar, Art Yeager and
Annemarie Orr. This project presents a solution for individuals who struggle with the intricacies
of organizing medication into weekly pill containers. There were many challenges faced
throughout the project development cycle. These challenges were overcome largely through
communication between the team and project mentors.
The initial objective was to complete two indirectly related projects: one-handed pill
opener and pill dispenser. Through communications with Dr. Shaffar and Annemarie, it was
determined that the completion of both projects by the team would not be feasible and the team
continued on with the pill dispenser.
The requirements set by Art were developed with the user’s need in mind. The
requirements set forth prioritized a reliable mechanism and a simple and intuitive user interface.
The largest impact on the design of the device was the requirement that restricted the use of
sensors and motors. After a round of initial designs and early prototypes, the discourse was opened
up about reconsidering the limitations of a predominantly mechanical system. As such, a
standalone bespoke electronic feedback/control system was developed that fulfilled the original
user needs for a simple and reliable device.
The end product incorporates a robust mechanical design, with a simple feedback-control
system to verify accuracy and reliability. Initial tests have shown promising results, and further
refinement of the mechanism, physical structure, and the feedback-control system has the very real
possibility to yield a marketable device that can positively affect the lives of many individuals.