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Pill Reminder Protects Against Unwanted Pregnancies

The number of unplanned pregnancies could be dramatically reduced as a result of a simple design concept from 21 year-old Brunel University student, Lai Chiu Tang. rememberTM - an electronic contraceptive pill reminder - alerts users as to whether they have taken their daily pill and advises them on what to do if they have forgotten to take it. In addition, rememberTM continually predicts the user's current level of contraceptive protection and display's a subtle red glow if it is too low.

Whilst the pill is over 99% effective against pregnancies, it is cited as the biggest reason behind the 40% of unplanned pregnancies in the UK*. 70% of women forget to take one pill a month and 10% forget to take it four times or more, showing the pill's main flaw is user error**.

This is where rememberTM helps. It is a discreet portable device that carries one pill packet and indicates the exact pill the user has to take each day. It reminds the user when it is time to take her pill with a choice of four alerts - an alarm, a vibrate mode, a light, or a dual alarm/vibrate mode. The 'light mode' is a white glow of the illumination bezel, which gently pulses when a Pill is due to be taken- the user can never turn this mode off. The sound, vibrate, sound & vibrate and silent modes are optional and can be set by the user. The 'silent mode' allows the user to ensure the device remains discreet in quiet environments, e.g. in a meeting. The longer the pill is left untaken, the quicker the light or vibrate mode will pulse and the louder the alarm.

If the pill has not been taken, a series of extra sound or vibration alerts kick in. If these alerts are still ignored, the device, which remembers the exact day in the cycle the last pill was taken, advises users whether to take the missed pill, to skip it and move on to the next one or start a new pill packet at the end of the cycle without a pill free week. rememberTM also displays a subtle red glow if the user's contraceptive protection level becomes too low, informing her to use an extra contraceptive method.

Lai Chiu Tang, from Dartford in Kent, who is currently in the final year of her BA Industrial Design and Technology degree at Brunel University comments: “I had heard and read so much about the massive consequences of simply forgetting to take a pill that I began thinking about ways of reminding women. But after further research I discovered that forgetting to take the pill was only part of the problem. Lots of women didn't know what to do after missing a pill or, worse still, didn't even realise they may be unprotected.

“I created rememberTM to solve both of these problems - encouraging people to take the pill correctly and regularly so they're continually protected against pregnancies, but also advising them if they don't. I hope it will make taking the pill a more trustworthy and effective method of contraception by eliminating the user error. It allows women to enjoy busy and hectic lifestyles without worrying about whether they've taken a pill or not.“

Paul Turnock, Design Director, School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University, comments, “The pill may be the most popular method of contraception, but it also puts a huge responsibility on the user. The ever-increasing popularity of the pill is creating a growing problem with unplanned pregnancies. Lai Chiu's design, rememberTM, should help women take the pill at just the right time, ensuring it doesn't let them down. This elegant, beautifully designed product has value far beyond its function and is a really appropriate lifestyle product.

“Lai Chiu will be showing rememberTM at the upcoming MADE IN BRUNEL Innovation Show, alongside other final year projects, many of which are designed to have a social impact. Each year we are amazed by the level of interest in the students' projects, both from the general public and from Industry. I'm sure Lai Chiu's project will be hugely successful - It would be a highly desirable product in a very competitive market.“

How does it work?
A pulsing illumination of the bezel on the front of rememberTM indicates a Pill is due to be taken. When the device is flipped opened, a glowing light around the pill shows the correct pill to take and the device contains a pusher to get the pill out of the packet so it can be removed from the pill tray (whilst the pill packet remains unmoved from rememberTM).

rememberTM automatically pauses all alerts at the end of the pill packet to allow the user have her pill free week, and reminds the user to replace the pill packet to make sure she will be ready to take the first pill of the next packet promptly. The user will only be allowed to have a pill free week if rememberTM has recorded that she has not missed any Pills during the third week of her current cycle.