You may be aware of the, sadly, rather large business of creating and selling fake drugs in online pharmacies. Some of these fakes are simply unlicensed generics, but others could be placebos or something even more malicious. Whether you’re a seizure patient popping an emergency Klonipin at the last minute or a just a humble allergy sufferer looking for relief from a prescription-strength solution like Allegra, the dangers of counterfeit medications are very clear. Only a very skilled individual could even hope to tell the difference between the real deal and most of these fakes without very specialized equipment, leading to the counterfeits becoming more and more common. So common, in fact, that Interpol reports seizing 20.7 million fake medications in 2015. A startup called Stratio is looking to reduce that figure a bit, or at least mitigate the damage done by the fake pharmaceuticals.
The way that the San Jose startup is proposing to do this is with a device called LinkSquare. Light reflects off of every object differently. LinkSquare lights up an object placed on the lens and lights it up with various sources and spectra of light. It then records what’s reflected and compares it to data on file for a given object. It links up via USB to a smartphone, which holds a database of scanned objects. The data is compared on screen between a stored object, such as an authentic pill, and the object on the scanning lens. The demo for the device used a Viagra tablet, but Stratio did say they wanted to expand the device’s capabilities to include things like food.
The LinkSquare, with development bolstered by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is set to retail in June of 2016 for $199, if a crowdfunding round sometime between then and now is successful. Leslie Grothaus, head honcho of business for Stratio, said of the product, “We’re hoping people can use this to assuage some of their fears about the things they consume,”. Stratio is currently conducting research to work some kinks out of the device and add more objects, including more medications, which they have declined to name.