Pillsy, the world’s first smart pill bottle, conditions you to take your meds

pillsy smart pill botle vitamins with fruit
Managing medication is hard enough when you’ve got one pill to remember, but juggling multiple supplements, vitamins, and prescriptions is a recipe for disaster. Medication nonadherence — not taking medications as prescribed — is responsible for 125,000 deaths in the United States each year, and costs the health care system about $300 billion annually.

It’s a problem that Pillsy, a smart pill bottle that keeps track of daily doses, aims to solve.

Company co-founder Jeff LeBrun conceived of the idea when he and his wife struggled to follow a pill-taking routine.

“I tried reminders on my phone, but they would often go off when I was nowhere near my pills,” he said. “And [though] my wife is a very capable person who is good at almost everything she does, [even] she found that it was difficult to remember to take these new vitamins on a regular basis.”

Pillsy isn’t very complicated, and that’s the point — the team set out to build “[something] accessible to as many people as possible.” Every Pillsy packs a Bluetooth 4.0 radio, an open/closed sensor (the second-generation model has a load sensor), and a battery than lasts for more than 12 months on a charge.

pillsy smart pill botle fromabove

A smartphone app does most of the heavy lifting. Pillsy automatically senses when the pill bottle is opened and closed, and sends an alert via SMS, lock screen notification, and/or phone call when you forget a dose. It monitors for double doses, and keeps track of how many pills are remaining.

A family sharing feature lets you choose you monitor a loved one’s doses and get weekly reports. And if you use Pillsy to keep track of vitamins, the app syncs a nutrient report to Apple Health, Apple’s wellness platform on iOS.

Trouble keeping track of medication is the leading cause of placement in nursing homes, LeBrun said. But the problem cuts across generational lines — young people are statistically worse at taking their pills than the elderly, LeBrun said.

“It’s really not that surprising,” said LeBrun. “Today, most people are simply handed new pills and told to take them once or twice a day, but with none of the tools needed to build a new habit. There are no visual cues, no rewards, and no regular support. A short discussion with a doctor or a pharmacist is simply not enough.”

LeBrun’s solution is the “habit loop,” a concept in behavioral psychology that posits developing a new habit requires (1) a cue, (2) the desired action, and (3) a reward.

pillsy smart pill botle ontable

To that end, the Pillsy app ships with a motivational chat bot that provides helpful advice. If a user skips doses, Pillsy’s bot asks them why, so they can drill down to the core reasons and get back on track.

“Most pills that have longer-term benefits don’t come with a trigger or a reward,” LeBrun said. That’s bad news for prescriptions. “Research has shown that most people forget the prescription instructions that are given to them verbally only 10 minutes after leaving the doctor’s office.”

The team has already had success. They’ve recruited dozens of beta testers who are using it to help with prenatal vitamins, antidepressants, ADHD medications, and drugs to treat cancer and HIV. And LeBrun’s wife — one of Pillsy’s first beta testers — went from taking vitamins 40 percent of the time to taking them over 98 percent of the time.

“I wanted Pillsy to be friendly, fun, and easy-to-use,” said LeBrun. “Pillsy is intentionally simple to use, but we believe it can help many people take control over an important part of their help. We’re starting with a smart pill cap, but our ambitions are actually much greater.”

Pillsy is available for prepurchase starting today.

Product Review

Hotter than a Dot? Google's Home Mini outsmarts, doesn't outperform Amazon rival

With voice match and improved artificial intelligence capabilities, the $49 Google Home Mini is a voice assistant that seamlessly puts the Google platform on the tip of your tongue.
Computing

Don't take your ISP's word for it: Here's how to test your internet speed

If you're worried that you aren't getting the most from your internet package, speed tests are a great way to find out what your real connection is capable of. Here are the best internet speed tests available today.
Wearables

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Product Review

Apple's best product isn't the iPhone, it's the Apple Watch

Apple already ruled the smartwatch market with the Apple Watch Series 3, but the Series 4 elevates it to new levels with more screen, a sleeker design, and even an world-first electrocardiogram app that lets you keep tabs on your ticker.
Outdoors

The best snowshoes you can buy right now (updated for 2018)

Snowshoeing is a great way to stay fit and active during the winter months, but finding the right pair can be a challenge. Here are our picks of the five best snowshoes available today to keep you moving on the trail this winter.
Product Review

Garmin's Fenix 5X Plus is built for fitness freaks who fawn over every feature

With onboard music, full-color topographic maps, and new sport metrics, the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus sets a high bar for GPS smartwatches. Find out how it can help boost your performance in our Fenix 5X Plus review.
Emerging Tech

Bose’s latest hearing aid has its own app

The FDA has granted Bose approval to bring a more intuitive hearing aid to market. The app-controlled device is the first of its kind to be granted FDA approval since Congress passed a law allowing the sale of OTC hearing aids.
Wearables

The Fitbit Charge 3 is now available for purchase worldwide

Back in August, Fitbit confirmed its new wearable -- the Fitbit Charge 3. The new fitness tracker features a touchscreen OLED display, smartwatch capabilities, enhanced fitness features and more. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Outdoors

These zip-on bike tires change up your tread to match the terrain

Retyre gives cyclists the ability to change the tread on their bike tires simply by zipping on an overlay designed to provide better grip on trails or in the snow, without replacing the existing tires.
Product Review

Withings Steel HR Sport is a fitness tracker you’ll love wearing

Withings jumps back in the wearables game with the new Steel HR Sport, a hybrid smartwatch that is as much a fitness tracker as it is a timepiece. It's so good that it hasn't left our wrist since we pulled it out of the package.
Emerging Tech

Forget laxatives — this electronic pill will literally shake the crap out of you

Are you suffering from constipation? What you really need is a vibrating smart pill that promises to shake the crap out of you. And we mean that completely literally. Here's how it works.
Deals

The best sound machines to help you fall (and stay) asleep

Whether you find that sleep better with white noise, rain sounds, or deep sleep music, there’s a sound machine on the market that will be able to help you catch more z’s in no time at all.
Outdoors

The Wau stands out in the crowded ebike market with its 60-mile range

The Wau ebike is a high-tech commuter that offers onboard GPS tracking, geofenced alarm systems, built-in front and rear lights, and pedal-assist speeds of up to 20 mph, with a range of as much as 60 miles between charges.