The Hero Smart Appliance is a medication dispenser that lets you schedule when it will dole out your pills. The Wi-Fi connected device will also monitor how much medicine you have left, send alerts when it's time for a refill and notify you when a user has taken their medicine (useful if, for example, more than one person uses the machine or if you're monitoring another person's usage). The Hero became available today for online pre-ordering for $399 (about £280 or AU$540); the Hero company expects the retail price to be about $999 (£700 or AU$1,345).
It's pretty easy to operate the Hero. After you enter your name and connect the Hero to the Internet, you type in the name of your medicine, how many doses you need to take and at what time you need to take them. You put your pills into a little container that goes inside the Hero, and it will dispense them into a cup at the appropriate time. You can also access your medicine off-schedule if need be.
The Hero company said the smart appliance could find a lot of use for caregivers who have to monitor another person's medication usage because of the scheduling ability and app notifications. An automatic dispenser could make it easier for someone caring for an older parent, for example, and give them one less thing to worry about. The Hero could also be a boon for folks who take multiple pills and have a hard time keeping things straight -- it's a big step up from those plastic pill holders you can grab at the pharmacy. And even if you only take one pill, the app can help you remember to take it when you should and, in the best-case scenario, stay healthy.
Price is going to be a huge obstacle, however, in getting the Hero to the people who could most benefit from it. There are also limitations on how much medicine can be stored in the device (a maximum of 10) and the type of medicine (pills only, no liquids). The Hero company is exploring options, including Medicare reimbursement in the US, that could help keep costs of the unit down. And the product has a huge responsibility to make sure it keeps all those pill cartridges organized and dispensing the right medicine at the right time.
- App is available on Android and iPhone
- Alerts delivered via text message or email
- Can be used with vitamins