Take Your Medicine

Made by Emily Wu

A reminder to pause to revisit moments of joy and regain nourishment with laughter.

Created: February 4th, 2019


Proposal/Conceptual Design

This smile-inducing device was created out of the desire to spark joy through a physical medium. My subscribed correlation of joy with happiness and laughter persuaded me to pursue an object that would recreate laughter after the origin of spark. Take Your Medicine is a device that triggers an audio clip of laughter when tilted upwards, synonymous to a person consuming medicine. This project invites the onlooker to imagine the situation in which the person is experiencing laughter. Likewise, the onlooker might search for a time when such a laughter was heard in his or her own life. Take Your Medicine reminds you to stop for a second to re-focus on what is truly important and exists for you to embrace these captured moments of joy for a second or more.



Take Your Medicine is comprised of an Arduino Uno and an MPU-6050, which harbors an accelerometer, gyroscope, and temperature measuring unit inside. Arduino C and Processing were utilized to write the necessary lines of code. When the user lifts the pill bottle, the MPU-6050 is able to detect this movement through its accelerometer. I used the change in acceleration to create a trigger event, in which the Arduino would create a serial output and simultaneously communicate with a script in Processing, which detects this serial output. Once the serial output is detected in Processing, an audio clip is played on repeat until the device is put down, in which case the audio clipping is played until the last second. Google was heavily used for this process. Additionally, Arduino forums and a posting from the Fall 2013 Electronic Media Studio 2 class proved to be especially handy.



The original intention of this project was to find a way to detect, record, and store laughter, which was to be triggered and played at a later point in time. I was transfixed on the idea of live capture memory and figured that the best way to capture genuine laughter was to find a way to make the device intelligent to capture these pockets of joy. Due to a time constraint, however, I was only able to configure the device to trigger laughter clippings. Another modification I made came from using the Arduino Uno as opposed to the given Photon Particle, which was due to past experience with the Arduino and a reservoir of resources for the Arduino community. Additionally, I was unable to use the given external speaker since my computer did not have a micro SD slot to export music data into the given micro SD card. YouTube thus came in handy for the various laughter clippings. In the end, I was able to recreate the original idea using the speakers from my laptop with the original action-triggered event still intact.



The pill bottle hosting the important electrical component plays on the idea that “Laughter is the best medicine”. While circumstance might prove otherwise, the notion that laughter can help deal with stress and lead to better relationships and overall health is no lie. According to an article by Forbes, laughter causes the brain to release serotonin, which is a hormone with similar effects as antidepressants. Laughter’s endorphin releasing effects also improves social bonds by causing other people to laugh. It also has anti-inflammatory effects which help to protect the heart and nourish long term health. This information bolstered my determination to create this device to help people reap these medical, social, and emotional benefits while playing on the element of nostalgia. The pill bottle also nods to the fact that just as patients inadvertently forget to take their prescribed medication, we can easily get caught up in stress in our day-to-day and forget to laugh and take life a little less seriously.


Open Questions and Challenges

- How can we remember laughter in context?

- Should we hold onto past memories/emotional experiences?

- What are the consequences of revisiting an emotional experience an excess number of times?

- Would this device encourage people to engage in more social activity and produce more laughter or to stay inside and binge on the remains?



I initially came into the project thinking that I was going to revolutionize an industry with the ingenuity of my week-long project. I was stunned to hear that this project was not the end all be all to a conversation, but rather a catalyst. This project comes in contrast to my engineering discipline, where projects are set in stone, passed on from previous years, and usually uncompromising. I enjoyed looking at the mentioned Volkswagen’s “World’s Deepest Bin” (, in which the act of throwing out an object triggers an audio clipping of an object falling down a deep bin in a cartoonishly dramatic manner. This “Fun Theory” reminds me of gag items, similar to my object if interpreted as “canned laughter”. In either instance, the user goes through a routine task and finds something unexpected, causing curiosity, amusement, or, as desired, laughter. Furthermore, while presenting, I revealed the fact that the audio clipping was taken from YouTube and was informed that presenting this audio clipping as one obtained from a dear friend would create the level of intimacy that is desired with the product. Thus, I learned to frame the product in a way that would create a fully developed story. 

The world's deepest bin - Thefuntheory.com - Rolighetsteorin.se
Rolighetsteorin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbEKAwCoCKw


DiSalvo, David (2017 June 5 Published). Six Science-Based Reasons Why Laughter is the Best Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/06/05/six-science-based-reasons-why-laughter-is-the-best-medicine/#77c46f407f04.

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A reminder to pause to revisit moments of joy and regain nourishment with laughter.