Pill-iD app developed to scan MDMA pills with aim of saving lives

UK creative technology agency Rehab and French advertising agency Herezie have today announced the prototype for Pill-iD, an app that allows users to scan pills used in recreational drugs with a phone camera, giving them an instant identification of the pill, its likely dosage, risk-level and predicted side effects.

No matter if you accept drugs from a total stranger at a festival, or you get them from your trusted dealer, one thing is for sure – you can never really know what you’re taking. As the roadmap out of lockdown is now known and people begin to anticipate festivals and nightclubs opening, the need for drug harm reduction has never been more urgent. Some relevant charities are worried that ‘pent-up’ energy could increase the amount people take.

Users simply open the app and can either use their camera to take a photo of a pill or upload an existing picture. The app’s machine learning model, tensorflow.js (a google technology) will then try to identify the drug by searching Nuit-Blanche, a database on different known narcotics in the European market, before showing the user a likely match. All user data is kept completely anonymous and is untraceable. The app strictly never encourages drug use, but simply educates on the known risks and information of each one. The aim of the project is to recognise the widespread usage of recreational drugs like MDMA and reduce harm – it was developed with the founding principle of hoping to save just one life.

Pill-iD currently exists as a working prototype, with the goal of being released by Winter 2021. It offers an exciting example of how machine learning and AI can be used to help people and even save lives.

The idea was born out of Herezie and made possible by Rehab’s ‘Hack Week’ programme, where the agency sets aside a week to find creative solutions to pertinent societal issues. Each ‘hack’ focuses on a topic the team feels passionately about and utilises Rehab’s diverse skills and expertise as creative technologists, using the same creative process that the business employs on its client work.

Rob Bennett, CEO of Rehab, commented: “The issue of recreational drugs and the need for harm reduction are a critical health problem across Europe, and we’re proud to have developed this app with Herezie. The topic is undoubtedly taboo for some, but our Hack Weeks all aim to address real, societal issues – which this very much is. Recreational drug use should not be encouraged, but using technology to help people absolutely should be. If we can save just one person’s life with this app, then we’ve done our job.”

Visit www.pill-id.info for more information and to view a video of Pill-iD working.


About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are travel, wine, and eating too much good food!