Design of Smart Medicine Dispenser System


Balamurugan S, Suhail Ayub, Marimuthu R*

School of Electrical Engineering, VIT University, Vellore – 632014

*Corresponding Author E-mail:,



This paper presents the design of Medicine Dispenser System which aims to help patients with their medication. It is an improvement over traditional medicine boxes in that it has an alarm function. Also, in the conventional medicine box, the patient must fill pills in the boxes day wise; i.e. they must refer to the prescription while filling the boxes. The device presented here allows the user to fill boxes based on the type of medicine. Different types of medicines go in different boxes. The user can initialize the reminder setting by choosing the time at which a pill should be taken, and also from which boxes it must be taken. The design was achieved using a microcontroller. We have also incorporated an alarm and calling function with this system. Thus, this model eliminates the possibility of human error.


KEYWORDS: Medicine Box, GSM, Alarm Function, Medication System, Smart Box.





Patients on medication can have trouble remembering which medicine to take when, especially if they are prescribed multiple pills. Hence, there comes a need for a supervision system to check the timely intake of a patient’s medication. The Medicine Dispenser System helps users with their medication by reminding them at the assigned time. The smart medicine box is a very viable option for those in critical need to ensure timely intake of their medicines. Many old aged patients or patients in critical conditions are dependent on medications (1).


The timely intake of these medications can be very critical on the basis of their importance. Several technologies such as nurse call system and GSM based calling to nearby hospital (2, 3). Existing medicine boxes in the market do not cater to the needs completely – they leave room for error. Hence, our team has designed a box that will reduce these shortcomings and, in turn, help the patient to a great extent.


This device is especially targeted at patients who take multiple medicines. It can be difficult to remember which pill to take at what time. The medicine boxes in the market have compartments for different days of the week which needs to be filled based on the prescription. They also do not have a reminder system. Intake of medicines is left up to the user. The smart box presented here eliminates the need to refer to the prescription while refilling boxes, thus leaving no room for error. The time to take each medicine is entered only during initialization of the box. After that, the user need only refill different types of pills in their respective boxes.


The traditional medicine boxes available in the market have seven boxes, in which pills must be stored day wise. The user must refill the boxes in the same way- based on the prescription. They have to reload the containers every week. This can increase the risk of making mistakes. There is also no reminder function to alert the user when to take their medicines. Managing the medication is left up to the patient.


The "Smart medication system" by Chang and Sung (4) has different boxes for different types of medicines. The user can enter the time and details of pills to be taken with the help of an LCD and a keypad. At the set time, an LED glows to indicate which box the pill must be taken from. However, this device does not have a sound mechanism, which makes it ineffective in case the box is not near the patient. Also, there is no backup system if the user fails to acknowledge the alarm. In addition, the refilling of the boxes is left up to the user. There is no way to check the status of medicines in the boxes.


2 System Model:

In the current market, a few numbers of medicine boxes that are available along with the function of reminder at specific times. The basic problem that is associated with these is that the reminder function is day based which reminds one to take a tablet at specific times and has to be refilled every day. The Medicine Dispenser System stands apart over this model by providing a user defined alarm and also gives the freedom from refilling the box every day as it is based on three different medications rather than day based so the user has to fill the boxes in terms of different types of medications and set the alarm based on the prescription given by the doctor, which gives the alarm at the set time and which specific box to take the tablet from. Also, it consists of an inbuilt GSM module which calls the user when the alarm is not snoozed, hence making the alarm system more efficient (5-8).


The smart medicine box also comes with a distinct feature of supervising the boxes for tablets and alarming the user when the box is low on tablets. It also indicates which specific box is running low on tablets. This information is relayed on the LCD as well, in the form of an ‘L’ (for LOW). Hence, our design stands apart from the existing designs in the market.


The system alarms the patient at the assigned time with the help of a buzzer sound, and green LEDs to pinpoint from which box the medicine should be taken. This alarm can be snoozed by using keypad buttons. There is also a calling function wherein the device calls the user's mobile phone if the alarm is not attended to. In addition, there is a facility to check if the boxes are empty and need to be refilled. If the level of pills is low, the LCD displays 'L' for medicine status, the buzzer goes off, and red LEDs pinpoint the boxes which need to be refilled. These boxes can be refilled based on the type of the medicine they are storing, as opposed to referring to the prescription every time.



The microcontroller used to achieve the functions required is an Arduino UNO.  The work has been divided into four broad areas to achieve the targeted functionality:

a)     Real Time Clock configuration- This involves setting the initial date and time. The Arduino is programmed to function like a clock.

b)    LCD and Keypad interfacing- A Liquid Crystal Display is included to display the time continuously. It also displays the status of presence of medicines in the boxes. The LCD and Keypad combination is used to enter the date and time, and to enter the necessary information for medication.

c)     Infrared sensor interfacing- Three IR sensors are used to detect the presence/absence of pills in three boxes.

d)    GSM module interfacing- The GSM module enables the Arduino to make a call to the user’s mobile phone if the alarm goes unanswered.


4 Implementation of Prototype:

Implementation of prototype requires the following steps. They are given below

·         User can initialize the device by entering current date and time. He/she can also enter details of medication such as the time for the morning, afternoon and night alarms, and also information on which pills must be taken at these times. This work helps to handling 3- types of medicines.

·         The Arduino continuously monitors the real time, and compares the same with the specified alarm times.

·         At the alarm times, a buzzer goes on. In addition, LEDs, corresponding to the boxes from which pills must be taken, glow. A button on the keypad functions as a snooze button, using which the user can turn off the alarm.

·         If the alarm is not attended to for 5- minutes, a call is made to the user’s mobile phone. This call lasts for one minute, unless the user snooze the alarm before that.

·         The Arduino also checks the status of the pills in the boxes. If any of the boxes are empty- the buzzer goes off, an LED corresponding to that box glows, and the LCD displays medicine status as ‘L’ (for LOW)—the alternate being ‘F’ (for FULL).



All the functions described are demonstrated as follows-


The initialization of the device involving time and date setting, and choosing the alarm timings and the pill specifications is shown in the beginning


Fig 1. Time and Date Setting


·         Once the clock starts, the alarm goes off when the time matches the set alarm time.

·         The LEDs corresponding to the pills that need to be taken glow. The buzzer also goes off. The function of snooze button is shown in Fig 2. On pressing snooze, the alarm is turned off.


Fig 2. Light Indicates Medicines to be taken


·        If snooze is not pressed for a specified duration, a call is made to the user’s mobile phone.


Fig 3. Device calls the user when alarm is missed


At times other than the alarm time, the action of the IR sensors can be observed. If all the boxes are full, the LCD displays an ‘F’ for the medicine status. If any of the boxes have a low-level of medicines, the LCD displays an ‘L’. At this point, Led’s corresponding to the empty boxes glow, along with the buzzer sound. The function of the sensor snooze button is shown in Fig 3. On pressing snooze the buzzer goes off; however the LEDs and LCD display status will change only on refilling the box (es). Total cost of this model is approximately is $70.



The proposed work is implemented both the programming and the hardware design. We have been successful in making all the functions work. The box has been designed and the components are fixed into it. There is also a scope of further improvement, a feature to detect when the box is opened can be added and the feedback to the switch-off the alarm. Also, more number of boxes can be added to house a variety of medications. In the current market, this box stands apart from the existing designs due to a variety of features. One reason is that it is an efficient method to check the presence of tablets in the box. The notification system also stands apart because of ability to make a call via the GSM module in case the tablets are not taken for a specific time. Also, the user does not have to refill the medications on the basis of prescription, but just in the basis of different types of medications and instead enter the prescription using the LCD keypad. Hence, the Medicine dispenser system stands apart from existing designs.



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Received on 10.04.2017             Modified on 15.06.2017

Accepted on 22.06.2017           © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2017; 10(8): 2507-2509.

DOI: 10.5958/0974-360X.2017.00443.7