Students Turn Smartphone Cases Into Lifesaving Medical Devices

Have an allergy that requires you to carry epinephrine? Maybe you have asthma and need to tote around an inhaler? What about that birth control pill you were supposed to take before you left the house, but forgot? Samuel Graska, Ariella Yager and Justin Gleason show off their smartphone cases that contain vital medication.

No need to worry. Three Kent State University students have you covered, along with your smartphone. Together, with the help of LaunchNET Kent State, the three created Case.MD. Ariella Yager, entrepreneur major in the College of Business Administration; Samuel Graska, cell and molecular biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Justin Gleason, graduate student in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design spent more than a year planning, inventing, designing and 3-D printing smartphone cases that contain vital medication. Wherever your smartphone goes, so does the medication.

“It’s only common sense to pair it to a device we are all glued to, and one that kids are growing up glued to as well,” Yager says.

The ideas started flowing when Graska began working on a midterm project. He looked down at the pen he was clicking, over and over, in his hand. Graska noticed how the spring-loaded cap ejected the pen’s point. He had an idea. Would the same mechanics administer a dose of epinephrine, and better yet, would it work with a vial inside a smartphone case?

Graska ran the idea by Yager, who then came up with more ideas for smartphone cases. Together, they brainstormed two main cases and invited Gleason on board to bring the concepts to life using a 3-D printer.

“I like to dream big and push people to their limits because I think together people can be absolutely amazing," Graska says. "I see this company growing exponentially.”

Case.MD started by designing the Epi-case, a case that holds two vials of epinephrine and a smartphone. It is slightly thicker, with both ends covered by safety caps. When someone is having a life-threatening allergic reaction, the caps are removed. The case is then placed against the person’s leg. With the push of a button on top, the needle is ejected from the bottom, administering the medication.

As an alternative to the EpiPen®, Case.MD says their invention is smaller, costs $400 less and most importantly, users always have it with their smartphone. The idea just won $20,000 in the Youngstown Business Incubator’s and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation AMPED competition.

The second case that the students created is called the Alula. This case discretely holds, protects and dispenses women’s birth control pills so women can always have the medication with them and take them at the proper time. The back of the case contains a dial that, when turned to the appropriate day, dispenses the medication out the side of the phone case.

“We are going to integrate it with an app as well so you can track and be reminded when to take the pill,” Yager said.

Case.MD is launching a Kickstarter for Alula in the spring. The money that Case.MD won will be used to pursue intellectual-property protection and more additive manufacturing options for its products.

The students say they are optimistic about the future and plan to continue growing the company when they graduate in May.

“I don’t know which one of us said it first,” Gleason said. “We are striving to be the next Apple. I guess I walked into the right room and the right time.”

Watch Case.MD’s story on WKYC-TV

POSTED: Thursday, February 23, 2017 12:04 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 09:00 PM
Kristin Anderson