This smart pill bottle was designed to change user behavior and fight the opioid epidemic

More than 750,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid – the crisis is an ongoing epidemic where the medicine has taken an evil form. Opioids are prescribed drugs that can become addictive leading the patient to soon go from legal opioids to finding illegal opioids which soon turns into full-blown drug addiction. The drugs formulated to replicate the pain-reducing properties of opium binds to the parts of the brain that not only control pain but also emotion, making the user feel good with a rush of dopamine when they take it. In America, an estimated 10.3 million people above the age of 12 misused opioids in 2018 alone.

We need to understand that it starts with emotion and behavior before it becomes a problem, and good design has the power to change our behavior which can be a pillar of support to the medical and mental health professionals doing their best to fight this epidemic. Meet Pilleve – a smart pill bottle that aims to fill in the gap between opioid prescription and addiction. As a part of the larger solution to the misuse of opioids, this integrated pill bottle comes with a connected smartphone application that can accurately monitor a patient’s intake in real-time while securely holding opioids at all times. Many of the prescription bottles come with a child safety lock but not an adult safety lock, and that is what Pilleve was designed for. The goal is to help the user control and be accountable for their own intake right from the beginning which inculcates a sense of responsibility and decreases the chances of the user losing self-control when it comes to medication. If in case they do, the real-time monitor can alert family or local authorities to take timely action and even save lives.

The bottle is like a modern lava lamp with a minimal aesthetic, it almost looks like something Apple would make if they ever decided to venture into medical product design. The white bottle can be depressing on its own but the warm yellow transparent pill container gives it a pop of color and a friendlier vibe. It also comes in a slightly darker aesthetic with a black base and blue container. The dispenser has a toggle slide switch which can be used to dispense the exact amount of dosage needed and make it a habit right from the first day of your prescription course. It also helps to reduce the plastic waste generated each time you have to get a new container. Pilleve is the size of a coffee cup making it easy to carry and store anywhere while still being discreet. Its simple mechanism integrated with the smart app gives us this efficient pill dispenser that can encourage forming a healthier relationship with medicine and can save up to 130 lives a day. As a design community, we can play a pivotal role in helping the medical community curb this epidemic by shifting user perception by changing the way they interact with pills – we shouldn’t be afraid to take medicines in times of need.

Designer: Vuk Dragovic