Convenience at Your Fingertips: Porticos Helps Develop Automated Medication Dispenser

We’ve all been there: worried that a loved one isn’t taking his medications or, perhaps worse, is taking medication improperly. It can lead to hospital stays, the inability to live independently, and lots of stress on patients and loved ones.

Spencer Healthcare Solutions, an RTP-based company, has developed a hardware and software platform to address this medical challenge.

The “Spencer” is a smart, connected health hub that dispenses the right pills at the right time. Since patients and pharmacists don’t have to sort or count pills with Spencer, the danger of human error is drastically reduced. Plus, Spencer can send reminder alerts and even connect patients to Spencer-trained pharmacists for questions and advice.

So patients and their loved ones can feel confident that medications are taken properly and at the correct time. If you’ve ever worried about a loved one on multiple medications, you know peace of mind is life changing!

Porticos Design Challenge: Balancing Precision and Ease

One of the fundamental pieces of the platform solution is to provide the medicine to the patient in a format that the Spencer device can properly dispense. For the Spencer that means a cartridge containing prepackaged foils of medicine. To meet this need, Spencer Healthcare Solutions engaged Porticos to develop the “Spooler”. The Spooler allows the pharmacist to efficiently and reliably package the patient-specific foils into a cartridge that can then be put into the Spencer unit for dispensing by the patient.

Medical Device design - consumer device design - product design and product development - side 3

Creating a product with such a high-stakes role in patient health presented several challenges. First, the Porticos design team needed the Spooler to be agile and dependable: small enough to fit on a countertop, fast enough to produce a medication pack every 30 seconds, and reliable enough to be a life-or-death part of a healthcare plan. It also needed ethernet capability and an easy-to-navigate touch screen, so even the least tech-savvy could use it with ease.

As the name suggests, the Spoolers’ main function is to wind and unwind the foil packets of medication to fill the cartridge. One of the obstacles to performing that function while meeting the time requirements is for the medication packs to jam or be torn by the mechanisms during that process. To overcome this obstacle, Porticos engineers ideated a variety of unique mechanisms and performed design of experiments to prove out the concepts. As a result, Porticos was able to create a Spooler that winds and unwinds smoothly every time – a reliable solution for a critical part of patient care.

One of the key steps that Porticos advised all customers to consider as part of the design process is to prototype the design to allow functional evaluation before proceeding to production manufacture. Case in point was an obstacle that was identified during initial prototype functional trails; specifically engagement and disengagement of the Spooler “arm”. The arm interfaces with a hub in the cartridge to perform the winding function. Originally, Porticos designed a traditional latching mechanism to secure the arm in place, but the team soon realized that optimizing (1) the forces necessary to ensure good engagement with the cartridge hub and (2) the need for the pharmacists to easily disengage the arm was problematic. To solve this challenge Porticos engineers devised a unique magnetic solution that not only meets the functionality requirements but exceeds the life cycle requirements as well.

As further testament to Porticos innovative contribution to the Spooler and Spencer products, Porticos engineers were named inventor on multiple patents.

“Porticos engineers did an excellent job of developing the spooler unit,” said Jeremy Bridges, Hardware Manager with Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They worked very well with our team and were very responsive to our needs. We were especially impressed with some of the innovative solutions that they develop and were able to integrate into the product.”

Porticos Production Challenge: Balancing Cost and Medical Standards

Once the Spooler was designed, Spencer Healthcare Solutions needed a cost competitive production plan that could also meet the high-quality standards for medical equipment. Porticos Asia, the production services arm of Porticos US, was able to identify the perfect production spot for a custom build—one that could match quality and cost efficiency with an aggressive delivery schedule. They were able to ship the first batch of Spoolers just twelve weeks after the start of production—all the while analyzing the manufacturing flow for further cost reduction in future production runs.

Medical Device design - consumer device design - product design and product development - side 2

Meeting The Challenge: Another Product Design Partnership

Through both the development and production stages, Porticos US and Porticos Asia were proud to support Spencer Healthcare Solutions.

“We consider Porticos to be a valuable partner in reaching our company goals,” said Ben Wetzel, Finance Manager at Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They have provided excellent engineering and manufacturing support. Furthermore they have remained flexible throughout our engagement to meet our changing needs.”

For more information on the product, visit www.helloimspencer.com.

For more examples of how Porticos is Product Design for the Way We’re Designed, visit porticos.net.

The Right Light in a Touch: Porticos Develops Bezel for Revolutionary LED Lamp

Did you know that the right light can help us improve how we wake, work, and rest? Unfortunately, the problem with lighting today is that replacement Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs have limitations and can’t provide the brightness and light quality that we expect and deserve. Lighting technology has the potential to deliver so much more.

Porticos Product Design Challenge: The Orchid LED Table Lamp

Lighting should be energizing and beautiful, bringing brightness to any space. When Purillume, a new kind of lighting company, was ready to work on its first lamp—the Orchid LED Table Lamp—Porticos was pleased to answer the call.

The Purillume team conceptualized the Orchid LED Table Lamp body and bulb assembly to deliver a bright (2750 lumens) and high quality (color rendering index = 92/100) light output. However, one key aspect was still missing—the addition of touch screen functionality for the ultimate user experience. Purillume wanted to create a table lamp that would combine an elegant design with LED power and efficiency to deliver beautiful, fully controllable, omnidirectional light that could be easily adjusted to a user’s lighting needs at any given time.

Product design - consumer design example - purillume

Product Development Challenges: Balancing Cost and Size

Purillume partnered with Porticos’ product design and development team in order to be able to deliver the right light at the touch of a finger. Porticos was tasked with developing a plastic bezel assembly to mount a touchscreen LCD display to the lamp body. The Porticos product development team had to meet very demanding product requirements for this design. The team had to ensure that the touch screen LCD design would work with a range of lamp body materials and thicknesses.

“Ease and cost of assembly were also prioritized along with minimizing the size of the bezel,” said Porticos Design Engineer Lewis Joyce.

The project evolved into designing a bezel assembly, electronics enclosure (e-box) and refining the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) of the lamp body. The Porticos team also worked on optimizing the overall assembly design and created 2D drawings of all mechanical parts.

“While Purillume had preliminary designs of several of these parts, Porticos was brought on to incorporate Design for Manufacturability (DFM) principles, reduce time to market, and offer general mechanical and product design expertise,” said Joyce.

Meeting Product Design Challenges: The End Result

The end result is a revolutionary lamp, the Orchid LED Table Lamp, with an LCD touch screen that allows users to adjust brightness and color with customizable presets, save their preferred lighting settings, display time and settings or dim to black.

“The Porticos team was able to take my incomplete design, clean it up, and get it ready for manufacturing, said Neeraj Lal, Founder & CEO of Purillume, Inc. “Their thoroughness and attention to detail helped to complete my product design.”

The lamp also contains dual USB ports for charging mobile phones or tablets. The development of the bezel to mount an LCD touch screen to the Orchid LED Table Lamp has allowed Purillume to create an intuitive lighting experience for use in homes, offices, hotels or anywhere you’d use a lamp. Users can easily change the brightness and color temperature of their Orchid lamp based on their mood or activity.

Porticos is proud to have been chosen by PURillume for this project.

Introducing Livi™—your new home healthcare aid!

The ground-breaking Livi™, Porticos’ latest engineering challenge, revolutionizes patient care and prescription management by dispensing medicines as prescribed—ensuring accuracy and precision for patients with complex pharmaceutical needs. In August 2014, Porticos announced that a working prototype was ready; now, Porticos engineers have supported units through in-depth product manufacturing and market testing. Continue reading “Introducing Livi™—your new home healthcare aid!”

Porticos’s Latest Development Project Implements Kid-Friendly Design in a Revolutionary Communication Device

Is there any fear stronger than fear for a missing child? According to the US Department of Justice, nearly 800,000 American children are reported missing every year. Together with Filip Technology™, Porticos has developed a groundbreaking tool that will help parents keep in touch with their children: The FiLIP™. This revolutionary communication device is designed for parents who want to keep in touch with their children but aren’t ready to give kids access to a full-featured phone.

The Porticos team aims for innovation, and that’s exactly what this project required. The idea was to develop an easy-to-use device that could make phone calls, send emergency alerts or short messages, and share and save location-based data. All of the electronic hardware required for those services also needed to be small, portable, and—most important—child proof. According to Porticos’s Medical Team Leader Ken Hogue, size and durability were two main design goals.

“The real challenge of the project was to achieve an item that is the world’s smallest in its category,” said Hogue. “The FiLIP™ has a simple, clean appearance and sophisticated electronics, packed into the smallest package possible.  Every component had to be justified, or it was eliminated.”

The device was recently named “the world’s smallest commercially available communications and location device.” Hogue attributes this award to the “novel proprietary design,” which resulted in two patent applications with Porticos engineers listed as inventors. However, the small, wristwatch-like* FiLIP™ is also durable. It weighs less than two ounces, but its rugged, water resistant design easily fits with a kid’s lifestyle.

A new survey by Parenting.com lists the average age of a child receiving their first cell phone as 11.6 years old. According to the study, over 95% of parents surveyed listed “emergencies” or “peace of mind,” as reasons for purchasing a mobile device for kids. However, giving young children cell phones does more than keep them in touch with parents; it opens them to the world of mobile texts, picture and video sharing, Internet browsing, and more—some of which they may not be ready for.  Additionally, the devices are expensive and fragile, often not built with children in mind. The small-but-durable FiLIP™ is a better solution, because it only includes features that parents would want for their child, and its durability is better suited for kids. It’s a specific product that strives to perfectly match the needs of a specific audience.

Of course, this difficult design work is what Porticos does best: turns good ideas into great products. The challenge took innovation, but the result is a fantastic device that meets a real need. “It’s all worth it to create a unique product that can bring parents peace of mind,” said Hogue.

*Additional accessories provide for alternate wearing and carrying possibilities.

About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit www.porticos.net.

About Filip Technology™ —Filip Technology™ is focused on providing solutions designed to keep us in touch with those who matter most. Its products combine the two most important elements in family mobile offerings – communications and safety. Founded in 2010, Filip Technology is privately held with headquarters in London and U.S. offices in New York and Raleigh, North Carolina. The FiLIP™ was developed by a global team of engineers and is manufactured in the U.S. in partnership with AMTI.