Pills and tablets. They’re small, typically round or oval, compressed masses of medicine and there’s a lot of them on the market these days. That said, however, since there’s a finite number of shape and colour combinations several different drug compositions end up looking very similar. In fact, some pills look so alike that even a trained pharmacist will struggle to distinguish them. This issue makes distributing drugs a stressful task that often results in accidental mix-ups. As medical professionals know well, taking the wrong medication is extremely dangerous, especially for patients whose well being and, in some cases, lives depend on receiving accurate treatment. This is a problem that four Stanford Electrical Engineering PhDs believe they have solved.
San Jose, California start-up company, Stratio has introduced the LinkSquare, a hand-held, portable device that identifies almost any drug in just a matter of seconds. Not only is it fast, accurate and affordable, it’s also extremely user friendly. To use it, simply turn it on and gently press the tip of the LinkSquare down onto the pill in question and wait for a second or two… and voila! The identity of your mystery medication has been revealed through LinkSquare’s compatible iOs app. Uploaded onto your mobile screen, the app presents a detailed drug profile that includes a clear picture of the pill and brand logo, and its unique chemical composition and spectra data. Currently, LinkSquare is capable of identifying 500+ medications, which are stored onto an internal databased within the app. The slick and small design makes LinkSquare convenient for caregivers and pharmacists, as the gadget can be kept handy inside pockets and lab coats. The device is expected to sell for a base fee of around $250 USD.
LinkSquare has other purposes, as well. In addition to improving patient care and pharmacy workflow, the gadget can be just as easily be used to identify counterfeit medications. Counterfeit drugs have become a global problem, reaching into even some legal institutions like pharmacies and hospitals. LinkSquare could provide a simple way to remove and prevent fraudulent drugs from the getting onto shelves.
The technology behind LinkSquare is Spectroscopy, the measurement of the intensity of a wavelength of light.
“LinkSquare leverages both visible and near-infrared (NIR) light to identify medications; LinkSquare literally shines a light onto pills to detect the degree to which wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected, creating a signature that is unique to each drug. There is no need to rely on sight alone when LinkSquare can make scientifically accurate distinctions in moments.”