Type 1 (and even some Type 2) diabetics rely on carefully balanced insulin doses throughout the day to keep them going. Monitoring insulin levels, keeping insulin stored at an optimal temperature range, and keeping track of the medication’s location can be a constant source of stress. Usually, if a diabetic is unsure whether the medication’s temperature got thrown off, the batch will be thrown away to be on the safe side–which can waste a lot of money. And this is especially difficult for children and the elderly, who often rely on caretakers to help monitor their health.
Insulin Angel, a new smart device designed by a team of diabetics and parents of diabetic children, aims to make all this easier. Currently funding on Indiegogo, the small plastic container monitors your medication’s temperature and location, Internet-of-things-style. It connects to a free smartphone app–via Bluetooth–to notify you before the medication reaches a critical temperature and whether you’ve forgotten or lost it.
The app’s display always informs you of your medication’s exact temperature and location–it might read “Backpack, Insulin is fine,” or “Handbag, temperature limit exceeded!” If you’re reliant on a caregiver to help keep track of your insulin, the device can be programmed to push notifications to them as well. And it’s not just helpful for diabetics–the device is programmed to track the rheumatism medication Humira and the asthma medication Salbutamol, too. It’s an example of how design can help solve public health issues.
The device’s programming takes the guesswork out of temperature tracking. Insulin Angel operates wirelessly inside the fridge, where medication is stored. If there’s a power outage or fridge malfunction, Insulin Angel tracks and records the condition of your stored medication, letting you know if you should toss it or keep it. It also carefully monitors the weather, gathering data and warning you about upcoming heat waves or cold spells, so you can prepare.
On a larger scale, Insulin Angel could save patients and hospitals hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted medications. According to the designers, one study of the economic impact of discarded insulin found that insulin wastage averaged as high as 34.1% in hospitals in Ontario, Canada, amounting to a cost of $8,000 for the largest hospital surveyed and an estimated total annual cost of $360,000 for Ontario alone. When you apply those numbers to the 9% of the U.S. population living with diabetes, the impact could be significant.
You can pre-order Insulin Angel for $50 on Indiegogo.