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Fitness and Health Gadgets: Tracking your Life

Vitality GlowCap Smart Pill Bottle

Whether you’re taking Omega-3 fish oils or medicines, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of taking them at the same time every day (some drugs work best at a certain time of day, like asthma medication). If you’re taking a supplement haphazardly and you don’t know if it’s making any difference, or you just keep forgetting to take your meds on time, the GlowCap can remind you. The cap fits a normal prescription pill bottle (and comes with one if you want to decant pills from different packaging). You set the time you want to take your dose – by phone or email rather than on a Web site – and the cap flashes orange to remind you, as does the rather large ‘nightlight’ that you plug into an outlet.

When it’s time to take your meds, the GlowCap and the health gateway both glow and flash orange.

When it’s time to take your meds, the GlowCap and the health gateway both glow and flash orange.

You can use that to get a reminder in a different room (keep one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom, for example – although the blue glow when it’s not reminding you it’s time is rather too bright for a bedroom) but it’s actually a wireless hub and modem used to upload your dosage record to the service, so you want to bring the pill bottle within 30 feet of the ‘health gateway’ at least once a month to upload your ‘score’. That means you still get the reminder when you’re travelling without having to drag the gateway with you (the replaceable battery lasts about 9 months).

If you don’t open the pill bottle within an hour it rings like a phone and plays a reminder. At the end of the second hour you actually get an automated phone call to remind you. Once a week you get an email telling you how many times you took your pill on time, and once a month you get a printed report in the mail.

GlowCap tells you how often you’ve taken your pill – or at least opened the bottle.

GlowCap tells you how often you’ve taken your pill – or at least opened the bottle.

GlowCap is really aimed at doctors, healthcare providers (and possibly worried relatives), for whom the cost of providing a gizmo is less than the cost of extra healthcare if a patient doesn’t take their drugs regularly. It’s a reminder that you can’t dismiss like an on-screen alarm without even picking up your pills, and you can sign up for reminders to renew your prescription. Most of us could set an alarm on a smartphone and use a service like Daytum to record taking the pill, but anyone who needs a little more help would find this useful and largely unobtrusive.