Pills That Get Sick For You : Krulwich Wonders... Sometimes you're sick and have pills. But you don't take them like you're supposed to. So an artist in France is rethinking the pill-person interface in daring new ways: Instead of redesigning you, why not redesign the pills?
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Pills That Get Sick For You

Maybe you do this: You're sick. You have pills. You are supposed to take them. And then ... you don't. Not on time, not like you should, not like the doctor ordered. Conclusion: You're lazy. Or worse.

Solution: Instead of redesigning you, why not redesign the pills?

There is an artist in France, Mathieu Lehanneur, who is rethinking the pill-person interface in daring new ways.

An Inhaler That Says "I'm Sick."

The boy in this picture, we're told, has asthma. His asthma medicine is in that light-bulb looking thing on the night table. I think it is a kind of inhaler.

If the boy doesn't take his medicine on time, the inhaler will change color "displaying its own physiological problem and indicating to the patient the urgency of taking the medication."

In other words, the device "gets sick" if the boy doesn't use it. And when he does, it gets better (and so does he!) This design taps into our desire to help others feel better. Clever, no?

A Coffee Cup That Isn't For Coffee

Here's the same problem with a more adult solution. If you are the kind of adult who automatically drinks a cup of something in the morning, Mathieu and his team have designed an inhalant which is packed into a coffee cup.

All you have to do is tilt the container to your mouth -- a lid opens up and delivers the inhalant. He calls this an "Air Glass." It allows you to follow your ordinary morning routine, but instead of java, you're getting meds.


For people who are more comfortable with a goal, here's a series of antibiotic medicines not in pill form, but in onion-layers.

"The principle of this medication," says Lehanneur, "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."

See More Of Mathieu Lehanneur's Work


"Hooray!" says this design. "You've made it."

There is a psychological sophistication to Mathieu Lehanneur's work. I don't know if any pill companies have actually bought and used his ideas. I discovered him at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where some of his devices were on display, but I like his style.

He seems to know what it's like to be stupid.