Healthcare Tech

Pill-iD: Recreational Drug Scanning App to Educate Users on Dangers and Side Effects


Pill-iD: Recreational Drug Scanning App to Educate Users on Dangers and Side Effects

Recreational drugs can be dangerous, as most people know, but in the heat of the moment, it may just seem like a bit of fun. That’s where Pill-iD comes in as an app to identify pills by picture, making it easier for party-goers to check the pills they’re considering taking and learning more about them.

What Is Pill-iD?

Developed in the UK by agencies Rehab and Herezie, this app is meant to reduce the dangers of taking drugs, namely by educating people so they’ll avoid them. The app is still a working prototype, but it should be released in late 2021.

Essentially, you pull up the app and then take a photo of the pill in order to identify it. The image is then scanned using machine learning technology that has access to a European drug database. If the pill is found in the database, the app shows the user the match and any necessary information.

The information provided includes:

  • The most likely dosage of the photographed pill.
  • The risk level of taking the pill.
  • Possible side effects.

Once the person knows what they are taking, they can evaluate the risks and determine if they want to take it or not. The app is not meant to encourage taking pills but to educate and show the risks of the drugs that people take. The developers hope that understanding the risk of the drug and the possible side effects will help people decide to skip the drugs in favor of cleaner living.

For those attending parties, MDMA is particularly popular. It tends to boost the following:

Dopamine: This creates energy and works as a reward system that boosts certain behaviors.

Norepinephrine: Increases both heart rate and blood pressure, which may be dangerous for some people.

Serotonin: Boosts mood and sets off hormones that cause sexual arousal and trusting feelings while also affecting appetite and sleep.

People tend to take drugs so they can feel more energetic, awake, and happier. They discount the side effects, which this app will point out so they can be completely aware of what they are getting into by taking it. Side effects may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Teeth clenching

These effects can last up to six6 hours, but many people will take more than one pill so that they can stretch out the feelings of euphoria. They may end up dealing with the side effects for days after multiple doses.

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Why Use Pill-iD?

Taking pills is a popular way to party, and many experts are worried that the fact people have been quarantined for long periods of time makes them more likely to party hard. This could mean more will use drugs without fully understanding the risks. There are too many dangers associated with unknown drugs to safely do this unless you can identify what you are taking.

In the example of MDMA, the app can scan the pill and let you know how much MDMA is included in the pill (based on information gleaned from the drug database). From there, it can issue a warning if the dosage is too high and give you a list of probable side effects and outcomes.

While the app doesn’t tell you not to take pills nor encourage taking drugs, it will give you a realistic idea of what to expect if you do.

Pros and Cons of Pill-iD

The app has a number of pros and cons related to it. The pros include:

  • Simplicity is key with the app to identify pills by picture, as developers knew users might be intoxicated.
  • It is educational.
  • It covers a wide range of drug types.
  • It presents risks in a factual manner.
  • The app strives to be unbiased.

The companies tested the app with younger users to ensure that digital natives will find it easy to use and worth their time, but there are still some drawbacks. First, of course, is the fact that it isn’t out yet. However, that will be resolved soon.

Cons include:

  • The app is heavily focused on MDMA or ecstasy.
  • It works with pills but not other substances.
  • Its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Before using the app, it’s recommended that you read the reviews once they are out and determine their usefulness for yourself.

Pricing of the App

It’s not yet been determined what the price will be, but since it is a life-saving app, most people assume it will be free. You will need to download it.

What People Say About Pill-iD

At this point, there are no reviews on the app due to the fact that it isn’t released yet. However, there are certainly plenty of people expecting great things from it.

According to Rob Bennett, CEO of Rehab, “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.”

Alternatives to Pill-iD

There aren’t many alternatives to Pill-iD available, as an app to identify pills by picture, possibly due to a lack of interest in identifying recreational drugs. However, you can always compare images on Google Images Search to manually find the drug or check in a drug database.

KnowDrugs is the one big competitor, as it allows users to look up recreational drugs and see the side effects. It also provides advice on how to reduce the potential risks and covers more than 200 drugs. This free app lets you search by name or substance and let you check nearby areas for drug alerts, where certain drugs have had purity issues, etc. However, KnowDrugs doesn’t let you take a photo of the pill—you must actively look for it in their database.

The Bottom Line

Pill-iD is set to be a useful app that anyone can use at the moment to find out what drugs they’re about to take. While it isn’t out yet, it should be quite powerful once it is.


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