To the average customer, it would seem strange why a mosaic manufacturing business would be doing research into organizing prescription pills.
But to Ted Acworth, founder and CEO of Artaic, the businesses have striking similarities that lie in the company’s software design and robotics.
“If you extract it, as we can with our computer and design software, we can rapidly design an arrangement of small physical things, one square inch or less. You can do it with tiles, or you can do it with pills,” Acworth said.
Acworth said the research is in the early stages into what the pill organization might look like. He imagines that robots, which currently create extravagant and complicated images with a variety of colored tiles, would be used to create something akin to a personalized pillbox.
The machine would be capable of sending out customized packages to users either by mail or within an institutional setting, like a nursing home.
As a result, the 93,000 patients killed every year as a result of being given the wrong meds could potentially be saved.
“We think we can help bring that number way down. With a robot, you don’t make errors. You don’t have overworked poor nursing staff in an intense environment and they are manually sorting pills,” Acworth said.
The research has been funded by a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, as well as by a $100,000 grant from Mass Ventures START program.
The initiative, which is still an internal research project of Artaic, has also won entry into MassChallenge – the same startup accelerator that helped Artaic develop its mosaic tile company.
Artaic has seen massive success since winning the MassChallenge competition in 2011. In the last year, it has tripled its footprint to 4,000 square feet, and doubled its sales.
Located in the Innovation Design Building in the Seaport District, the company is looking to grow another 50 percent in space in the 1.2 million-square-foot building.
The success is rapid considering that the company will only turn eight-years-old in June.
“Hopefully we’re helping bring back an art form and getting to save some lives,” Acworth said.