New robot from Pillo Health, Black+Decker offers in-home monitoring, medication dispensing

Pria comes with an app for caregivers. (Pillo Health)

Black+Decker has partnered with tech company Pillo Health to launch a new robot assistant named Pria to help with in-home adherence to medication.

Launched just months after Pillo closed an $11 million series A round led by Stanley Black & Decker’s corporate arm and Samsung Ventures, the company announced its device can schedule up to 28 medication doses, provide alerts and dispense proper dosages through the use of voice command and a built-in camera. Pria uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to maintain security and shares all information via a mobile app that can be monitored by a caregiver from a distance.

And, perhaps most notably, the robot looks friendly. 

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Many devices were tested via field beta tests or pilot programs with the company’s partners before the technology was brought to market, said Emanuele Musini, co-founder and CEO of Pillo Health. “In the end, this anthropomorphic look was the one that resonated the most with our target audience,” Musini told FierceHealthcare.

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Musini started the company in order to solve a problem that had afflicted his own family members. The technology—which was previewed earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas—is aimed at a market of 40 million U.S. adults who act as caregivers to elderly living at home.
 
“People fall in love with our device’s personality and generally feel empowered and more in control of their condition. Both users and their caregivers feel a sense of relief not to bear the responsibility of ensuring complex medication regiments are taken on time,” he added.

When it came time to launch the product, the biggest challenge was building a complete system from software to device. “Because we want to control the experience entirely, we had to build the device as well as the whole cloud system to support it,” Musini said.

Stanley Black & Decker is Pillo Health’s first large client. The device is being sold for around $750—which includes a one-year subscription—through Stanley Black & Decker’s website (okpria.com), and beginning next year it will be available at some electronics retail stores.

Subscribers pay $10 a month, which will include access to mobile apps, video calls and check-ins for caregivers as well as constant software updates.

“I believe that having the ability to age in place is priceless. Compared to a long-term assisted living facility, $750 is a small price tag,” he said.
 
Pria differs from other pill dispensers on the market because it goes beyond voice activation. Family caregivers can video call into the home via their app and also schedule remote reminders or check-ins that Pria can deliver on their behalf.  

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Also, Musini says Pria is an ever-evolving project and that Pillo Health will be releasing many software updates with new features. Musini said his company is in the process of building other devices for different uses—all part of the “health at home revolution.” When asked about Amazon Echo, Musini says he will not consider this device a competitor until the Echo can dispense medications.

“In fact, I see a future where voice assistants will be connected with one another, sharing settings, preferences and alerts with one another. All our Pillo Health devices are built and meant for health from their inception, and I believe they will be the best on the market for that use case,” he added.
 
Moving forward, Musini sees his company’s devices as a positive solution for consumers wanting to bring healthcare into the home using a secure, proactive assistant built with health and safety in mind.

“Health is moving into the home and we are uniquely positioned to capture the value of this trend which was initiated by both ends of the spectrum,” Musini concluded.

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