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How does the Hero pill dispenser work? The answer might surprise you

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

How does Hero’s pill dispenser actually work?

Hero, which is made by Hero Health, is a device that automatically dispenses up to 10 different pills according to set schedules.

The device looks a bit like a space age gumball machine — so some users might think that pills drop out of the cartridges inside the machine, through a chute and into the cup below.

However, it’s actually a bit more complex than that, at least according to the patent for the machine.

According to the Hero Health patent on file with the U.S. government, the device actually uses vacuum pressure sent through a tube to “pick up” a single pill at the end of a specially designed robotic nib. An agitator is included, presumably to “shake off” any extra pills that get picked up along the way.

In simpler terms, think of it this way: There’s a piece of candy on a table and you have a plastic straw and you gently add suction to one end of the straw and use the pressure to “pick up” the piece of candy. In this analogy, the candy is the pill and straw is the tube — and the tip of the straw used to pick up the candy is the nib.

This mechanism is presumably designed to make it easier for the pill dispenser to know that it’s only picking up one pill at a time, which is obviously pretty important when dealing with medications since an extra pill could, quite literally, be deadly.

According to the patent, the tube is robotically controlled and can move up and down to reach pills no matter what level is left in the storage cartridge.

If, on the other hand, Hero were to simply let pills fall from the bottom of the storage cartridges, there is much more room for error and it would be harder to ensure only a single pill was dispensed since the device is designed to handle pills of all sizes with no configuration.

Gumball and candy machines typically work by letting a piece drop through an opening that’s just big enough to allow a single item to pass through — which works great when you know that all gumballs compatible with the machine come in a standard size. Pills, on the other hand, come a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so it seems picking one up via suction is, at least according to Hero’s research and development teams, the best way to dole out pills.

The fact that there’s a vacuum involved helps explain, at least in part, why the device makes the amount of noise it does. Some users are surprised when first using the device, perhaps expecting a few mechanical clicks but instead are greeted with a low humming noise along with a series of mechanical sounds.

New Hero users can get three free months of service, worth nearly $90, to new members.

Normally the service costs $29.99 a month plus a $99.99 initiation fee, but new customers can use the coupon code REFAVR1QVEYR to save $50 off the initiation fee plus get their first three months free.

That’s a total savings of $139.97.

If you’re trying to decide if Hero is a good fit for you, read our full review of the pill dispenser here.