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Medicine Science

Redesigned Cooler Reinvents Tuberculosis Treatment 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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Redesigned Cooler Reinvents Tuberculosis Treatment

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

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

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

  • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • 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 i

        • 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 hopeful

      • 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.

  • by Junior Samples ( 550792 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:48AM (#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. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

  • 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.
  • by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:32PM (#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...

  • 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

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

    • 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 ser

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"