How Embedded Vision Cameras and AI Technology Empower Pharmacy Automation
November 01, 2023
Modern camera technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) ensure that pharmacy automation is an integral part of medical innovation that helps improve patient care. They guarantee that efficiency and accuracy are maintained throughout the entire pharmaceutical process.
That's why it's no surprise that embedded vision cameras and AI are now fundamental to many aspects of pharmacy automation, ranging from medication dispensing to packaging, counting, and inventory management. Together, they act as watchful eyes that monitor crucial procedures and razor-sharp brains that help make potentially life-saving decisions.
In this article, you’ll discover the major pharmacy automation systems that rely on embedded cameras and AI technologies, how the process works, and why they’re beneficial.
3 Pharmacy Automation Use Cases of AI-Driven Embedded Cameras
1) Automated Medication Dispensing Systems
Automated medication dispensing systems are the heartbeat of pharmacy automation. They help ensure patients receive the right medication and proper dosage using embedded vision cameras and AI. The camera component is critical as it inspects medication containers so that every patient gets exactly what they need.
The camera's role is to capture detailed images of the medication containers. If there's any discrepancy or error, the system can halt and alert healthcare staff, thus maintaining patient safety. Also, barcode or high-resolution cameras with OCR capability can be employed depending on the system's requirements. They are important for checking the prescription's accuracy and selecting the right medication.
Furthermore, AI can provide a huge efficiency boost for medication dispensing systems. Like a super-accurate assistant, AI cross-references the prescription with the selected medication to guarantee they match. AI can pause the process and alert healthcare staff if any doubts arise.
The dynamic duo of cameras and AI acts as a safety net, ensuring patients receive the correct medication and dosage and enhancing patient well-being.
2) Automated Pill Counters
Accuracy is one of the fundamental pillars of automated pill counters since they oversee the counting and dispensing of medications, leaving no room for error. Basically, tablets, capsules, and pills in various shapes and colors await dispensing in a large-capacity container. So, when healthcare professionals input prescription information, the automated pill counter springs into action, bringing speed and precision.
A global shutter color camera, designed for high-speed operation, captures the pills flowing from the container. The camera's role is exacting even when multiple tablets tumble simultaneously. AI algorithms distinguish pills based on unique characteristics like shapes, types, and colors. They identify and detect tablets, even when they fall in multiples and on different sides.
See the images below where our See3CAM_11CUG, a global shutter camera, leverages our trained AI model to automatically count pills.
3) Automated Packaging and Labeling Systems
Automated packaging and labeling systems help pharmacies make sure that medicines are expertly organized. So, each pill or potion is correctly positioned with the right package and label.
When it's time to package medicines, high-end embedded cameras start overseeing this crucial task by capturing minute details, such as the size, shape, and color of each pill. It means that these cameras must be equipped with high resolution to uncover even the tiniest features of the medicines. A good dynamic range and Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) are essential to detect even minor cracks in the tablets. Of course, the cameras work alongside AI, which possesses pre-defined datasets to scrutinize images for any signs of damage or imperfections that may escape human eyes.
So, what happens when a mistake occurs in the packaging or labeling process and the wrong medicine slips into the package, or the label is amiss? Here's where AI takes the lead. An AI-enabled camera quickly identifies the error. Once the anomaly is spotted, it communicates with the system, prompting it to halt the process. Hence, the system can prevent incorrect packaging and labeling, making every step accurate and secure. For all practical purposes, the cameras act as the eyes, while AI is the brain of the operation. This guarantees that medicine is accurately packaged and labeled as they should be.
As evidenced by such applications of embedded vision in pharmacy automation, integrating AI-powered camera solutions into mission-critical systems will keep evolving the medical industry. These innovations will continue to further enhance process efficiency while boosting patient care standards to unprecedented levels. Hence, as technology advances, the synchronization of automation, high-tech cameras, and AI promises to take patient care to the next level.
Maharajan Veerabahu is co-founder and vice president of product design services of e-con Systems. He and his co-founders, Harishankkar Subramanyam and Ashok Babu Kunjukkannan, got together early in their professional journey and decided to leave their well-paying jobs to take a plunge into entrepreneurship. A first-time entrepreneur, Veerabahu has a deep passion for building products. His technical expertise lies in his unmatched understanding of engineering solutions, developing new technology teams and strengthening the core of the organization.