Here a simple TB compliance system, created as a collaboration between Gomez-Marquez and Kristian Olson. It consists of a personal low-power refrigerator to keep patients’ meds cool, along with a wireless module for connecting to cellular networks.
The refrigerator uses cell phone technology to alert medical workers when the patient fails to open it on schedule, a simple idea that hasn’t been so easy to implement. When they first went to Ethiopia with a prototype in 2011, nothing worked as planned. Arduino circuits burned out, the mobile network was incompatible with their cellular equipment, and even the red LED, which indicated that the unit was functional, had to be replaced because the color spooked local patients.
“You have to break it locally,” Gomez-Marquez reflects. “You only figure out what has to change by having things go wrong.”