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Redesigned Cooler Reinvents Tuberculosis Treatment

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the keeping-things-cool dept.

Medicine 22

First time accepted submitter sarfralogy writes with this news about a cooler redesigned by MIT that is saving lives. "It started with a basic soft drink cooler, a need for easier management of tuberculosis and $150,000 in innovation support. A big challenge in managing tuberculosis is keeping the medicine cool, in addition to tracking and monitoring dose administration. These challenges can be life-threatening, especially in less-developed countries, where refrigerators and fancy cooling devices are rare; ice must be trucked in on a daily basis to keep medicines at controlled temperatures. A redesigned cooler with the ability to keep the medicine cool and record when medicine is dispensed is aiming to solve both these problems. The design of the cooler is simple and practical — common characteristics of a scientifically sound experiment or innovation. It's nothing more than a standard soft drink cooler but the team from MIT's Little Devices Lab equipped the cooler with the ability to sound an alert when the temperature inside the cooler becomes too high and transmit data wirelessly using a cellphone transmitter whenever the cooler is opened."

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"nothing more than a standard soft drink cooler" (0)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40209279)

1) buy cheap soft drink cooler at Walmart
2) add alert sound and RF
3) ???
4) profit! $150,000

Re:"nothing more than a standard soft drink cooler (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40209391)

Quick! Break out your patent portfolio! It's an ice chest with a 'computer'...

Wake me up when they do cool shit like this [americanscientist.org] in the field

samzenpus- BIG QUESTION (1)

kdawson (3715) (1344097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40211015)

Redesigned Cooler Reinvents Tuberculosis Treatment

Sammyboy, answer me this one- How does a cooler reinvent something?

Please Retire already, broski

I will beat them to market with MkII (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40209373)

It includes a 10W solar panel and a peltier cooler with a digitally controlled thermostat (part of the same system that handles communications)

I shall call it "Mister Obvious"

Re:I will beat them to market with MkII (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40209697)

Why is there always such a negative reaction to folks that are working hard to make a difference? You know, people that have actually done something useful instead of just snarking on message boards? From the article:

... it can run on either plug-in power or solar cells, and contains circuitry to monitor the temperature inside and transmit an alarm if it rises too high. ...
In addition, to track compliance, each cooler records the exact date and time when the box is opened, which allows a single dose packet to be dispensed. A built-in cellphone transmitter sends information on temperature and cooler activity to a central health facility where the data can be stored and monitored. ... The daily ice deliveries cost $600 a year — about double the cost of the CoolComply system — and “ice doesn’t send you a message” to show that medicine has been taken, he says.

Additionally, the article mentions that opening the lid dispenses a single dose and tracks that it was dispensed.

I, for one, congratulate the inventors and wish them luck in commercializing the product.

Re:I will beat them to market with MkII (2)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210051)

Yes, I agree, though it does appear to be a bit obvious...
I would think another good step would be changing out the polystyrene insulation for aerogel... It is still more durable than a vacuum flask, but almost as good insulation wise. Add to this GP's peltier idea and bake in a decent PV panel on the lid with some LiPo batteries and you're good to go. Plug in to charge when power is available, leave in the sun (or use a remote panel) when power is not available. Aerogel insulates so well that sitting in the sun wouldn't be a bad thing.
-nB

And: In case any of these ideas are considered novel enough to patent I hereby lay claim to them and subsequently release them into the public domain.
-nB

Re:I will beat them to market with MkII (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210805)

I am using an old wheeled cooler as a portable solar station enclosure because I have it and because batteries don't really want to be in the sun any more than they want to be frozen, and I decided against attaching any panels to the lid itself because I wanted to be able to get the optimal angle and yet still use the lid to cover my controls and such (a CD playing stereo and a CB radio are going in the box.) So IMO it's best to keep the panel separate. That does open up opportunities for theft, but hopefully it will increase the chances of the panel being stolen without the medicine attached.

Re:I will beat them to market with MkII (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210681)

Why is there always such a negative reaction to folks that are working hard to make a difference?

Perhaps I was unclear, which is possible, but I meant that "my" idea was obvious. I have the parts here, too. I don't remember what I measured for the draw on the cooler I've got now, though. Also it's red which is not so good in the sun. I got a new one in grey which would be better but the fan doesn't spin and I haven't got to the diagnosis phase yet.

Reinventing the Wheel (2)

Junior Samples (550792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40209441)

Why is this news? The picture showed power lines and TV antennas, so they have electricity. A $55 dorm refrigerator will do the job just as well.
http://www.walmart.com/cp/Refrigerators-and-Freezers/90791?catNavId=90548&tab_value=Online&ic=32_0&ref=125874.421350&search_sort=4&selected_items=+&depts= [walmart.com]

Re:Reinventing the Wheel (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40209613)

Mmmm... no. Just because you have electricity doesn't mean you have *steady* electricity. Some places in the world have electricity only for certain hours of the day. Other places have frequent electricity shutdowns at random intervals.

When the power goes out and the temperature rises in your little dorm fridge, your medicine goes bad and people die. This is why this medicine fridge needs an alarm as well as the sms message system to say when the fridge is opened to dispense medicine.

Re:Reinventing the Wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40211553)

It's still cool.

Really?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40209591)

They don't have refrigerators BUT they can operate a soft drink cooler AND they have WiFi and cell service?

Re:Really?? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210073)

Actually, yes.
WiFi can travel quite far with flat land and no buildings of concrete and rebar in the way. Cellular service is vastly cheaper than copper phone lines.

Re:Really?? (2)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210439)

GSM cell service is pretty well ubiquitous in developing nations. So much so that minutes have become currency [gigaom.com] .

Re:Really?? (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40213779)

Coca Cola and Cellphones have higher penetration in most third world countries than clean water and electricity. Coca Cola's physical distribution system is fucking amazing ... after a natural disaster, coke will find it's way to the afflicted area faster than water tankers with a military escort, I shit you not. So yeah, it's easy enough to find a cooldrink (soda for the americans) vending machine in the back and beyond of rural africa. The coke that comes out of it will even be ice cold roughly one third of the time, and it'll be restocked by a guy on a bicycle carrying a cooler box. Cellphones, really it's a no brainer. The infrastructure is way cheaper to develop than fixed line fibre or copper, and the potential markets are well worth the money. No matter where you are in the third world, you will always be able to find three things: Cigarettes, Coca Cola, and prepaid airtime vouchers.

Wifi, I'll agree is far less likely... but there are those closed system sim networks used for ATMs and card machines that are essentially free to operate as far as the end users are concerned, once a governement negotiates a flat rate with the cellphone companies

Similar to a standard class project (2)

hubang (692671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40209993)

When I was in school, one of my class projects (for "Analysis of Thermofluid Processes") was to design a theoretical (i.e. we didn't have to actually build it) man portable vaccination cooler. It had to keep the vaccines 50 degrees below ambient for a few days. My design was Peltier effect cooler that ran off batteries for 5 days. Intermittent duty cycle combined with heavy insulation made it more effective than you'd think.

Nice photo op opportunity (2)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210009)

The "cooler" will have intermitent power, the beeper will be disconnect because it bothers the people near the "cooler", and the mobile phone is "donated" to the administrator's girl friend, and if they happen to have some "smart" technician s/he'll do some "appropriation" on the "cooler's" simcard.

But meanwhile the team will have a nice photo-op opportunity in some nicer/safer zone of africa with cute children, and a nice pool at the hotel...

BTW it's certainly patented by GE or Westhinghouse or some such company...
Or maybe some gambling machine producer will find out that this is very similar to : "oups the CPU is overheating, lets send an SMS message to the room manager before the machine stops milking the clients..." and use their patents to milk them...

Moreover keeping medication cold has little to do with tuberculosis, there are many other type of medication / medical supplies that need to be kept cool.

In another news : advanced high tech help veterans pain management (former sergent FooBar used his/her iPad to call mother, mother told him/her to take an aspirine and some warm herbal tee, calming effect of mom's voice, aspirine and camomille + SMS of girl/boyfriend helped feel better...

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40210153)

What they would have designed if they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to modify the cooler software to notify them when it was too hot?

Cold Chain (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210353)

This is an incremental improvement for cold chain, but does not address some of the key problems.
  1. Cold chain isn't just storage, it is movement. This offers no improvement on current devices.
  2. Cold chain is also vulnerability to theft or accident. This is a very stealale object, and has no additional protection against other natural hazards.
  3. cold chain is also the ability to move, the wireless here does not integrate into a logistical network.

As a result, even calling it an "innovation" is a stretch, it is a packaging. Packaging can be important to successful adoption, but there are several underlying off the grid problems that are not addressed here that are obvious to anyone who has dealt with essential medicine delivery can point out.

"Where fancy cooling devices are" (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#40210605)

Where fancy cooling devices are rare, but ones sending wireless cellphone signals aren't fancy I guess...

Re:"Where fancy cooling devices are" (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40212999)

Where fancy cooling devices are rare, but ones sending wireless cellphone signals aren't fancy I guess...

They aren't. Cell phone service is ubiquitous in most developing countries, and some third-world countries have better coverage than Europe or the US.

Turns out that when you don't need to deal with NIMBY issues, putting up a bunch of cell towers is cheaper, easier, and more theft-resistant than running a bunch of copper wire. As a result, cell service has better availability than either wired phone service or mains electricity.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40211831)

A cooler + arduino = a $150k grant? ... I'm at a loss... maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet.

The paxia.com article said nothing about the "cooler" actually being a mini-fridge.

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