IPS-designed smart safe enters the war on drugs

Pill protector: With a little help from Hauppauge's Intelligent Product Solutions, the iKeyp smart safe is wading into the war on drugs.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Perpetual monitoring of your prescription medications is now an app away.

A Westchester distributor has taken to Indiegogo with humanity’s “first Internet of Things-integrated personal safe,” and while there’s no reason you couldn’t use it to secure a passport, diamond or wad of Benjamins, the iKeyp is specifically “designed to disrupt the cycle of prescription drug theft and abuse,” according to Solo Technology Holdings LLC.

Aiming for $50,000 in 45 days, the Indiegogo campaign is not so much a crowdfunding effort as the parent company’s coming-out party. Offering “early bird” specials and package deals, the soft launch – releasing a product to a restricted market before a full launch – has enjoyed a rocking start: Launched Sept. 27, it stood at 84 percent of its goal ($42,000-plus) midday Oct. 12.

Billing itself as “an emerging leader in America’s fight against the prescription drug-abuse epidemic,” Solo Technology Holdings has outfitted the iKeyp with a series of smartphone-enabled sensors, remotely alerting a user – via downloadable app – if a correct (or incorrect) code has been entered into the safe’s digital keypad; if the door has been left open; if the device senses potential tampering; or if other security-related protocols have been triggered.

You have theft: A downloadable app puts prescription-drug security in the palm of your hand.

You have theft: A downloadable app puts prescription-drug security in the palm of your hand.

Sensors also permit remote smartphone entry and send alerts if a WiFi signal weakens, or if the iKeyp’s batteries run low.

Water-resistant and small enough to fit into most drug cabinets and dresser drawers, the smart strongbox is an ideal fix for the “97 percent of the population” that doesn’t secure its prescription medications, according to Solo Technology Holdings founder and CEO Jeffrey Hermann.

“The path leading to prescription drug abuse is clear and personal-medication security is essential to stopping the epidemic,” Hermann said. “The problem is that no one has until now offered a simple solution for consumers to safely store their medications and at the same time easily access them to maintain medication adherence.

“This is our intention with the iKeyp.”

To realize those intentions, Hermann’s company had to overcome some technological hurdles, including the challenge of maintaining WiFi connectivity inside a metal cabinet. To that end, it drafted Hauppauge-based product-design specialist Intelligent Product Solutions, which lent its IoT expertise to the iKeyp’s “antenna problems,” according to Senior Marketing Director June Feldman.

Intelligent Product Solutions engineers spent about 18 months working on the iKeyp, Feldman noted, and while she wouldn’t reveal technical specifications, she trumpeted a “highly specialized solution” that keeps the high-tech coffer in touch from virtually anywhere.

Also on IPS’s to-do list: modifying the iKeyp’s retractable/expandable “wedging system,” Feldman said, allowing the miniature vault to be securely installed in drawers and cabinets of varying sizes and shapes without tools or extra hardware.

“It’s designed to fit in snugly,” she added. “So it’s not easy to take out.”

While tinkering with the wedging system is par for the course for IPS’s design specialists, Feldman said work on the iKeyp’s smart-connectivity protocols was “very satisfying” – especially since the Hauppauge maker has invested heavily in developing its IoT expertise and reputation.

“I’m glad we’re reaching whom we’re reaching and our SEO efforts are working,” the marketing chief noted. “Some engagements obviously work better than others, but we really enjoy working with startups and the excitement when something new works and it comes out.”

They’re certainly excited at Solo Technology Holdings, with the iKeyp flying off Indiegogo’s virtual shelves. That early-bird special, offering the safe for just $79, closed within days; package deals offering iKeyp at a substantial discount off the $149 retail price planned for a 2017 national launch are also doing well.

The hot response is a testament to the breadth of the national prescription-drug crisis, according to Solo Technology Holdings COO Mitch Danzig, who sees the smart safe as “one solution in helping break the chain of prescription drug theft and addiction.”

“We are aware that we can’t singlehandedly solve the epidemic,” Danzig said in a statement. “We are dedicated to collaborating with communities and coalitions through the United States to tackle all facets of the issue.”

One such organization is the Stutman Switalski Group, which provides substance-abuse prevention programs throughout the country. Solo Technology Holdings announced in August that it was working “to educate America on the importance of prescription drug-abuse prevention” in partnership with the group, which is led by former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Robert Stutman and Judge Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, a former Detroit felony prosecutor and Michigan magistrate.

Both Stutman and Switalski are also members of Solo Technology Holdings’ advisory board, serving as drug enforcement advisor and prescription drug compliance advisor, respectively.

According to Hermann, that’s the sort of heavy-hitting partnership – in addition to production partnerships with the likes of IPS – required to battle an opioid-abuse epidemic that the Centers for Disease Control blames for 28,000 American deaths in 2014 (nearly 77 a day), with more than half of those fatal overdoses involving legally prescribed medications.

The statistics only grow worse from there. More than 250 million opioid prescriptions are written annually, according to the CDC, with an Office of National Drug Control Policy study showing more than 70 percent of abusers illegally obtain their drugs from legally prescribed friends and family members.

And according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 80 percent of surveyed heroin addicts report abusing prescription opioids first.

That makes the iKeyp a key weapon in the war on drugs, Hermann noted, on several fronts.

“The abuse of prescription medication, particularly pain relievers such as opioids, is rampant in America and must be abated,” the CEO said. “It is destroying families and communities, and at the same time significantly increasing healthcare costs across the country.

“It is imperative that we do all that we can to stop the problem where it often begins – in the home.”