by Lucia Maffei
While taking the birth control pill has a lot of advantages, it has a catch: the pill needs to be taken every day at approximately the same time to display its full benefits, including protection from unplanned pregnancies.
Aagya Mathur, a graduate student at MIT Sloan School of Management, saw the necessity to effectively remind women to take the pill as a business opportunity and decided to do something about it. Her answer is a startup called Aavia, which she co-founded with Aya Suzuki and Alexis Wong in June 2017.
Now, there are many tools women can use as reminders to take the pill. An easy thing to do is setting up a recurrent alarm on the phone, but we all know how things can go with digital alarms: you see it and then you forget about it, swamped in a busy day or in an endless flow of notifications.
“I just want to remember the days I don’t remember,” Mathur said.
To take the digital reminding system one step further, Mathur is developing a device equipped with electronics that can sense each of the 21 pills in a birth control pill’s blister. The device is connected to an app that sends reminders on a women’s phone. When the time to take the pill arrives, a reminder appears on the screen.
And here’s the main difference with any kind of digital reminder women may use: the moment a reminder is being ignored, the device “senses” that the corresponding pill is still inside the blister and keeps sending reminders until the pill leaves its case.
Mathur, who’s not disclosing information about the channels the company will use to sell the device or its pricing, said that the company has been bootstrapping so far, with a team of three co-founders and two software engineers working out of MIT. At least a few more months are necessary to develop the final prototype, as the company will continue to interview more potential users to get their input.
An early access to the device for a limited number of users is planned for the spring of 2018, Mathur concluded.