Ideas: Emotive Medicine

What if you peeled a pill like an onion?

What if you peeled a pill like an onion?


I’ve got a secret to share. I was never very good at taking my vitamins. My mom was adamant about taking them daily and got me a pill box to keep track of them, but I discovered that I could just put them back in the original vitamin jar and she’d be none the wiser. Tricks like that and old light-bulb-heated-thermometer are things that kids learn to take advantage of growing up.

How is a parent to counter them without being despotic (and therefore encourage even more rebellion)?

French artist Mathieu Lehanneur proposes that instead of changing people’s behavior, why not have medication itself change to reflect children / patients’ behavior?

To illustrate his point, he presents an image of a boy in bed with a light-bulb shaped asthma inhaler on his night stand. If the boy does not take his medication at the appropriate time, the inhaler will change color to reflect the boy’s condition and to tell him “the urgency of taking the medication.” Frankly, I think the sense of urgency would be for the parents and not the boy.

Goal Orientation:

Lehanneur takes this idea a step further and asks why not change medication to become an engaging activity? He states, “The principle of this medication is to remove leaves off the product in the same way as one would peel an onion. The patient consumes one layer per day, starting with the darkest and progressing to the lightest until he arrives at the center where the final ‘recovery’ capsule is found.”

I personally consider this to be ingenious because goal-achievement is a key aspect of gaming and status, a concept that children can latch onto easily. Of course it’s not a foolproof design and this might lead to the issue of some children overdosing on layered pills in order to reach “success” sooner, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

This concept needs to be put into production now.

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