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User-centered Design Approach For Smart Pill Dispenser Prototypes


A literature review is always necessary in any research. It provides a platform on which the research can dig current knowledge, methodological contributions and theoretical underpinnings Based on this, the research considers secondary materials, which provide a background on significant studies that can be linked to the research topic. The review shall touch on the understanding of IoT, user requirements linked to IoT and applicable features associated to the pill dispenser.

Literature review


The study of Internet of Things attracts a significant research of IoT applications in healthcare and its evolution. Ibarra-Esquer et al. (2017) regarded IoT as being intelligent as well as an invisible network fabric that generate an embedded technology, which has the capacity of communicating either indirectly or directly via the internet. Ibarra- Internet of Things started to emerged in the 1990s but did not receive so much attention until the early 2000 supported by enterprise networks as well as consumer market demands Notably, internet connectivity is said to have been low at the time due to insignificant performance linked to network connection. Ibarra-Esquer et al. (2017) assert that in the 2000s, Internet connectivity came out as a norm for most of the enterprise applications. This means that at this time, Internet connectivity became common across most of the enterprises thereby marking the genesis of IoT. Chase (2013) noted that the world currently deploys around 5 billion smart connected things with forecasts attracting more than 50 billion connected devices before the year 2020. Chase (2013) indicates that the term IoT came in place in the year 1999 after Kelvin Ashton introduced it. While this looked impossible, the current technology trend reflects a significant growth of IoT after its implementation. Ibarra-Esquer et al. (2017) argues that implementation of IoT added a fresh way for the smart cities, emergencies, logistics, and security.

Kulkarni and Sathe (2014) believe that history of IoT, especially in healthcare, must have started around 1974 with the term described as an embedded computer system. At the time, this would incorporate a large system whose key function was never data processing. The systems in healthcare were implemented with the help of such devices like single board computers and microcontrollers among others. However, the devices have significantly gained momentum since the affordable use of the prototyping platforms such as Lego Mindstorms, Arduino and Raspberry Pi among others. It was until early 1990s where Mark Weiser thought of ubiquitous computing, which was later thought to be pervasive (Bhatt et al. 2017). The fundamental backbone behind ubiquitous computing entails the advances made by the embedded computing technologies as well as ubiquitous networks on a significant scale of several computers. Ibarra-Esquer et al. (2017) insisted that this concept closely resembled the actual IoT in which Weiser indicated the significant challenge of designing the operating system, which could host software that can exploit essential capabilities of networks. This informs on the background of IoT and how it made its way into numerous applications witnessed today.

Mainetti et al. (2011) indicated that by mid-1990s, sensor nodes began developing several technologies such as digital electronics and wireless communications. These are regarded as tiny modules, which have the capacity of sensing data, which could be transmitted over the network. A keen focus on sensor nodes and digital electronics shows the significant input towards understanding IoT. Significant numbers of the sensor nodes pave way for implementation of sensor networks which attracted applications in a number of areas. This further attracted significant platforms like localization, cloud technologies, nanotechnology and big data. Internet of things in healthcare started taking its current shape in the year 1999. The scope widened to attract website of alliances, development of magazines and IT related organizations. Further attention to IoT is captured by Istepanian et al. (2011) who focused on the establishment phase that ran from the year 2009 to 2011. During this phase, the concept began changing towards networks. This could mean that IoT could play a significant role of bridging the gap between the representation of information technology and physical world. An increased attention towards healthcare has further attracted advances in communications, microelectronics and information technology. The gap between the physical world and the virtual one continuously bridged by a number of technological developments. Developments in IoT refer to capabilities in identification, cooperation, communication, addressability, actuation, sensing and embedded information processing as well as novel user interfaces.

Darwish et al. (2017) asserted that from the year 2012, IoT turned into an extension of the internet and the physical realm. This is remarkable extension is attached to smart objects as systems started bringing the user information in a secure way. According to Yuehong et al. (2016), the most important bit of the long history and evolution of IoT entail its application in healthcare. This has paved way for significant medical applications which include elderly care, chronic diseases, remote health monitoring and fitness programs The evolution of IoT healthcare services has attracted significant changes in healthcare in the 21st century, which counts as part of the IoT evolution since the dawn of the new millennium. Based on the research conducted by Yuehong et al. (2016), the IoT evolution is marked by healthcare services. Some of these services include the Ambient Assisted Living, which is a system that carries the potential of solving personal healthcare challenges.

The Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) systems are believed to facilitate an ecosystem of computers, wireless networks, medical sensors and software applications linked to healthcare monitoring. Another service includes m-Health Things, which attract a new concept believed to match functionalities of IoT and m-health. The two platforms are thought to define the new as well as innovative future linked to 4G health applications as linked to technological advancement and growth of IoT applications. Other services include adverse drug reaction, wearable device access, semantic medical access, embedded gateway configuration and embedded context prediction among others.

Baker et al. (2017) states that IoT contributes to new types of healthcare opportunities. Some of the pioneering works have been directed towards development of healthcare IoT systems at the centre of healthcare evolution. Based on this, most of the IoT systems have been directed towards diabetes management and rehabilitation through the AAL. Notably, IoT has been at the centre of the design of many systems while ensuring secure communication. Some of these systems, according to Leppänen et al. (2016, include the wearable healthcare systems, which are essentially linked to the Internet of Things technology. In this system, for instance, designers would use pulse sensors, which are essential in reading vital sign upon detection of the wide range of the emergency conditions. Some of these conditions are not limited to vasovagal syncope, pulmonary embolism and cardiac arrest. Again, the respiratory rate sensors, which are known for monitoring sensors.

With more attention drawn towards IoT in healthcare and the smart pill dispenser prototype, studies aligned to user centred design approach and its importance in the design process. According to Chammas et al. (2015), the user centered design is regarded as philosophy as well as a process, which puts a person at the significant centre while focusing on cognitive factors said to come in play during the people’s interactions. The user centred approach has attracted more attention over the recent years. A number of methods as well as tools felt necessary within organizations for the purpose of comprehending the user and task requirements. The user centred approach attracts the idea of electronic interfaces made possible through software engineering. Chammas et al. (2015) also talks more about the interaction design in which the design triggers users to incorporate the relevant product, which can be a system or an app to the routine where necessary. While talking about the user centered design approach, most of the researchers would preferably talk of the interactive design which is known for handling problems while using available material.

The interactive design also finds more categories, which includes the genius design, activity centered design, and user centred design and system design. In the 1980s, Chammas et al. (2015) noted that most of the computer scientists and designers behind human-computer interaction started on the practice question of designing the systems that used to be left for the engineers. However, in the subsequent years, software designers started a movement that concentrated more on the users than the computer. The movement could be referred to as the User-Centred Design (UCD), which is largely regarded as being based on ergonomics as well as usability knowledge that finds the needs of the users. The UCD approach attracts similar use of the procedure, the standard design guides as well as documenting for future projects. Notably, the ISO 14598 predecessors are known to have facilitated the significant translation of the UCD approach known to complementary to significant software development methods. The approach is believed to be used across the system life cycle while explaining activities of the design and clarifying the user-centred design principles.

User Centred Design approach

A significant number of principles are thought to be considered in the course of developing any interactive system. First, it is required that the project should essentially be based on the significant understanding of the users, tasks and the environments. In relation to smart pill dispenser, the UCD approach demands that the design should take into consideration significant aspects linked to the project. The second principle entails users who need to be involved in the development process (Chammas et al. 2015). The user engagement, in this case, is regarded as a valuable resource attached to knowledge as far as the context of use and solutions are put into consideration. The third principle demands that the project need to be conducted as well as refined via assessments while focusing more on the users thereby minimizing risks of the system. Notably, the design needs to address the absolute user experience (Darshan and Anandakumar, 2015). The project team should also involve the multidisciplinary perspectives and skills. This means that team members need to emerge from separate areas with required views, experiences, and skills.

A discussion on the user centred design approach aligned to Internet of Things is examined by Leppänen et al. (2016). The author stated that some efforts have been made to facilitate the coexistence of, as well as, interactions between Internet of Things and human beings. The ecosystem avails human-to-things interactions with two key objectives. First, the ecosystem aids at improving the significant quality of the user experience as well as enhancing the collaboration. Human and things are expected to initiate bidirectional interactions in smart spaces. The realization of the interaction between Internet of things and use-centred design approach, as seen in the SandS project, indicates tools meant to personalize the significant behaviour of the smart things (Terninko 2018). This is evident in the opportunistic IoT, which is known for making use of the human social behaviour as the mediator of communities with unconnected objects. Leppänen et al. (2016) further denotes that the interaction between IoT and user-centred design approach is more evident in social IoT known for designing machines, which can communicate with other machines on the basis of an autonomous ocial relationship. Notably, social web of things is known for reusing the web architectures for the purposes of integrating most of the heterogeneous devices and the social networks (, 2019). Besides, the NFC and RFID are regarded as powerful technology enablers known for connecting the digital and the physical worlds. This can intuitively connect most of the smart objects with human beings (Baker et al. 2017).

Endsley (2016) believes that in designing the smart pill dispenser, it is necessary to have a user-centred design mind-set, which recognizes the essence of making use of applications and the design process. In this sense, Endsley (2016) seemingly asserts that the UCD approach, in the presence of IoT, prompts the designer to first focus on the customer’s needs. As it would be for the smart pill dispenser, the User Centered Design approach equally provides a common language for the stakeholders, designers as well as the end users. This is evident in the case of the Lunar Rover Mission carried out by NASA, which is said to have used the integrated user centred design. In addition, UCD approach attracts measurement as a significant part of the design process (Terninko 2018). This is because measurement creates a mechanism, which helps in understanding what is needed and what is to be improved. Apparently, the UCD approach would only attract simple sketches, which are simple to understand. A flow structure as well as navigation can highly support the main tasks. In addition, UCD approach is fundamental in attracting such technologies like IoT for the purposes of creating smart spaces.

Niting Bange et al. proposed a basic pill dispenser that helps the patients to take the medication on time, by notifying them through an alarm clock. The device was made of an Arduino controller, GSM model, 4x4 matrix model keypad, RTC module, LCD display and an alarm system. There are also significant limitations for this system and the most critical that need to be mentioned is that the system does not automate the pill dispenser mechanism and it doesn’t keep record of the pills dosage (, 2017).

In the first case of the pill dispensers they had limitations such as the fact that is not automated, Sahil Upadhyay et al. comes up with a better version of a pill dispenser by making it automated. The automated pill dispenser is GSM based and has the purpose to assist the users with an age over 60, who tends to forget the periodical pill intakes. The notifications that are generated based on the consumption of the pills are sent towards family members or carrier trough an SMS. The model uses GSM communication to provide interaction between machine and human. The limitation of the system is that it has issues with the network when communicating between modules. In addition, the system is imitated in terms of portability (, 2019).

Andrea Mondrag'on et al. proposed a better version of an automated pill dispenser. The device has the feature to attract the attention of the user when he/she misses the time to take the medicine. The system consists of 2 devices. One is the pill dispenser, which is a fixed device and the other one is a mobile device that can communicate with the fixed device in order to capture information and notify the user.

The limitations of this system are that it does not provide evidence to monitor the pills intake and also is limited in terms of portability and weight.

IoT is the most emerging technology evolving day-by-day bringing new features, making individuals to research and try to bring new improvement versions of the device. Videet Parekh, Chris Pinto et al. developed a pill dispenser device called "Avion", which uses a combination of an LCD display and a mobile application that remind elderly people to take the pills at the right time.

The device has different trays that allow to be filled with different tablet size. The limitations of the project are that the application cannot distinguish or know which pill the dispenser will provide for the user and also the application can't give a solution when the person forgets to take a pill (, 2016).

Many researchers and scientists have brought improvements for the proposed IoT device but also, they face limitations and challenges. Maheswar Rao Kinthada et al. proposed the latest system called "eMedicare" which has the purpose to act as a pill monitoring system. The device offers assistance for the patients with memory loss and also notifies the carrier if the pill is not consumed through messages or phone. The biggest limitation that faces such a system, which promises a lot, is that is limited in number of the pills that can be monitored at the same time ( , 2016).

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Based on the findings and previous developed projects, a table will be made to bring up the main issues that other developers had, which will help me to focus on the improvements over the new features that the Smart pill dispenses will have.

Similarities and differences between the actual devices

Similarities Similarities1

The survey led to the conclusion that there are devices that can meet some requirements, but also every improvement version leads towards a new limitation. The automated pill dispenser is a new advancement that needs improvement and offer simple features for the elder user with the purpose of making them understand how to use it. Also, the features must meet user's memory loss requirements in notifying them through voice alarms, or mobile app when the intake of the pill must be made or when is missed. Another important improvement is related with the intake of too many pills. Therefore, the device should contain a feature that doesn’t allow the user to overdose. The literature review went ahead to touch on the history of IoT, features of IoT that can be helpful in the design of the new dispenser as well as the significance of the user centred design approach.

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