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This Smartphone App Can (Mostly) Tell Your Pills Apart

Illustration for article titled This Smartphone App Can (Mostly) Tell Your Pills Apart

If you're sometimes unsure which pill you're supposed to be taking, help might be at hand. A researcher from the National Institutes of Health is developing an app which can tell apart your drugs using a simple smartphone snap.

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While you can use sites like the aptly-named drugs.com to distinguish between pills, it's a bit of a pain in the ass: you have to type in a thorough description of the tablets to get an answer, and amateurs can get it wrong.

Instead, Jesus Caban has developed image-analysis software that can work out the shape, colour and imprint of a pill from its image, reports New Scientist. It then compares those features to a database, and spits out an answer. At the moment, it achieves a slightly worrying 91 percent hit rate.

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But don't worry! It's improving all the time. The biggest problem being that at the moment the software struggles to identify pills from award angles—but that's something that can be improved upon. When it's working well, that's going to one hella useful app—both at home and in the hospital. [New Scientist]

Image via ajt/Shutterstock

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DISCUSSION

Well if aging Granddad has a hit rate of 60, then it's a huge improvement! Anyhow, why would you need this unless when you get all your pills home from the pharmacy you dump all the vials into a candy dish that you keep by the bedside table for snacking. Sure, if you find the errant pill on the ground and you're wondering about its hedonistic value the app might come in handy. Just remember, the really tiny ones are never fun. It's going to be nitroglycerin or estrogen or something like that...I think the ones in capsules aren't fun either because they'd be too easy to snort, right?