Fingerprint Scanners, Locking Mechanisms, and Supertough Steel, Oh My!

Mechanical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering have developed a high-tech “pill safe” intended to address the widely recognized problem of prescription drug abuse, misuse, and diversion. The tamper-resistant pill dispenser prototype features a fingerprint scanner that verifies the patient’s identity before releasing the correct dosage within the prescribed timeframe. The device also has a locking mechanism that permits only the pharmacist to load the medication. The development team unveiled their creation at the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Senior Design Day, an event held annually at the end of the spring semester.

The cylindrical device is built of supertough steel alloy as is used in aircraft landing gear and is equipped with the same kind of fingerprint sensor used in some iPhones. The sensor ensures that the medication is dispensed only to the correct patient; a timer regulates the timeframe in which the dosage is dispensed. Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Kavi Bhalla, assistant professor at the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health served as mentors for the team, and were so impressed with the design that they have a proposal pending with the National Institutes of Health to further develop and test prototypes of the device as part of a larger consumer product safety initiative.

To read more about medication abuse, click here.

To read about oxycodone abuse even with abuse-deterrent formulations, click here.

Read a news story about the device mentioned above, here.




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