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In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and cannabis, KEEP stands as a beacon of innovation, driven by compassion and a commitment to responsible use. Initially unveiling a medical marijuana storage box with harm reduction at the core of their mission, the founders of KEEP are reenvisioning their technology with a whole new approach to medicine storage.
When I first covered the technology of KEEP back in 2020, I mentioned that it was “one step forward, two steps back” for the company as they won an award at CES, but weren’t allowed to display their product if they used the word, “cannabis.”
In a recent interview, Phil Wilkins, the Founder shared the remarkable journey of KEEP, where challenges during a global pandemic metamorphosed into an opportunity to redefine the role of technology in cannabis and prescription medicine storage and management.
As a journalist, what strikes me about every conversation I have with Phil is how he wears his heart on his sleeve and how his personal passion flows through an obvious commitment to his mission.
Innovating Medicine Storage – A Tale of Perseverance
As the global pandemic disrupted manufacturing contracts, KEEP faced the daunting task of keeping their promises to customers.
“Now there’s a global pandemic and all our manufacturing contracts were canceled multiple times throughout the pandemic,” Wilkins recalled. “Now we have all of these orders and manufacturers have canceled and run away with our money.”
Wilkins reflects on the pivotal moment when offering refunds felt like the only option, yet fewer than 5% of customers chose it. The resilience stemmed from a commitment to those who had invested their trust and hard-earned money in the vision of KEEP.
“That was probably the biggest driver to keep going,” he humbly spoke.
A Stirring Call to Action
Wilkins recounts a moment of doubt, a moment when he questioned whether the journey was sustainable. A candid conversation with his wife became the catalyst for pushing forward.
Wilkins recalled a conversation with his wife, Eden, “I told her, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore,’ and she kind of looked at me and said, ‘You better suck it up, Phil, because unless people don’t want it, you have to keep going.’” and that’s been something I think about every single day because people gave us their hard-earned money, too.”
This call to “suck it up” wasn’t just about the business; for Wilkins, it was a reminder of the responsibility he held to those who believed in the vision.
Customer-Centric Evolution to Medicine Storage
In the face of adversity, KEEP made a pivotal decision – to connect with their customers. This led to a profound shift in perspective.
Wilkins decided, “Let’s go talk to every customer, everybody who bought one, to find out why they bought it – at the very least we’ll learn how to make the product better.
“And that was probably the best thing we could have done,” he added. What they learned is that discreet and functional medicine storage wasn’t just for cannabis consumers. Many people were using the device for traditional medicine storage and control.
“We found a lot of people were buying not just for cannabis storage or harm reduction, they wanted to buy it for other medications so they could monitor, their parents or grandparents or their children who had to take chronic medications.”
These discoveries led to new ideas and new innovations in the design of the device. What started as an innovation for medical marijuana storage, evolved into a more inclusive approach for all medicine storage.
“We just couldn’t risk it not being exactly what customers wanted,” Phil stated.
Medication Management Built-In
What began as a cannabis-centric innovation expanded into a tool for medication management. Wilkins envisions a healthcare renaissance, where hardware and physical products take on a role as consumer electronics first. The focus should be on simplicity, with the device doing the heavy lifting – which is how they innovated a new approach to medicine storage.
The KEEP has a very discreet, unassuming design that resembles a bedside clock. The double-tap open/close feature locks the container, or the user can select “Secured-Mode” so the box won’t open without the connected smartphone. The digital display is dimmable, so it won’t disturb your sleep.
KEEP is also tamper-resistant with an accelerometer that acts as a safeguard, sending notifications if tampering is detected, reinforcing Wilkin’s commitment to responsible medicine storage – whether you’re storing medical cannabis or prescription medications.
“Could someone take a sledgehammer and break it? Yeah, absolutely, it’s not a safe, but it is a step in the right direction to being more responsible and not just leaving things in the open,” Wilkins explained.
The Future of Medicine Storage & Medication Control
KEEP doesn’t just stop with medicine storage; through the app, users can go through a simple three-screen process to input the medication(s) they’re taking, and when they need to take it. Not only does the app send a reminder, but if the box isn’t opened within the next 10-15 minutes, it will send you a second nudge via text message.
Revealing his own experience with epilepsy, the device has become a vigilant ally for Wilkins, ensuring medication adherence and providing peace of mind. Wilkins shared, “Mine is a picture of my kids that says, ‘Hey Phil, don’t forget why you take your meds, you’ve got this.’”
Empathizing through personal experience, he explained, “If you talk to anybody who takes medication for a chronic condition, they hate it. We don’t wake up every morning excited to take a medicine – we do it because this is what allows us to live life the best way we can.”
As a last effort, 30 minutes after a scheduled dose, if the box hasn’t been opened, the device can send a message to a loved one for a little personal assistance.
“My wife will get a text saying, ‘Hey Eden, it’s your friends from KEEP. Looks like Phil could use a little nudge from you this morning. Have a wonderful day!”
Beyond the technological advancements, Wilkins highlights the importance of preserving independence, especially for the elderly. With statistics revealing the staggering number of Americans on multiple medications, KEEP emerges as a tool that not only aids in medication adherence but also fosters independence and dignity.
KEEP is actually a valuable utility to help maintain care for a loved one, even from a distance. Again, using his own family as an example, Wilkins explained:
“My 90-year-old grandmother takes six medications every single day, but she doesn’t want to use an app. So I manage her KEEP remotely. The keep just sits next to her, then at 8 a.m., when it’s time for her to take her medicine, she double-taps it and takes it out. If she doesn’t, then I get a text message that says, ‘Hey Nona hasn’t taken her meds. Click here to call her.’”
“Now, I call her and, it’s funny because she’s doing it intentionally because she knows I’m going to call,” he laughed.
The device essentially eliminates the need to have any awkward conversations with aging parents or grandparents about whether or not they’re taking their medications. “It’s designed for the preservation of independence,” Wilkins stated.
On the Horizon: Cold Medicine Storage
KEEP is venturing into medication control with cooling prototypes ready for manufacturing. The device’s potential extends to cold medicine storage options, aligning with the changing landscape of healthcare needs. The aim is to lead the way, offering solutions for clinical trials and high-cost therapies.
Wilkins added, “In the FDA pipeline, about 50% of drugs and clinical trials require cold chain. So there’s going to be a lot of medications that require cold storage and we want to be at the forefront.”
Likewise, many cannabis concentrates, such as rosin and live resins maintain quality and terpene freshness when stored at cold temperatures. So those looking to use KEEP for medical marijuana storage can anticipate cold storage capability in the future, too.
At the heart of KEEP Labs’ journey is a tale of resilience, compassion, and a relentless commitment to responsible use. As they navigate the realms of cannabis harm reduction and medication management, their innovation becomes more than just technology – it becomes a heartfelt companion on the journey to wellness and independence.
The story of KEEP Labs is one of technology with a soul, redefining the narrative of harm reduction and responsible medication control.
Cannabis Tech Review: KEEP Medicine Storage Box
Before I share our experiences, first allow me to explain our motives. We don’t have children running through the house, and we don’t necessarily need a reminder to use cannabis, it’s just a part of our day. However, we are planning on an upcoming cross-country RV adventure (watch for more coming up on that!), which will require, discreet, secure medicine storage. At first glance, the KEEP is a bedside clock with really easy-to-read digits. On a nightstand, no would-be thieves or prying eyes would ever be the wiser. So we were thrilled when we were given the opportunity to demo this device.
At the most basic level, the packaging of the KEEP is very clean and sleek – like an oversized Apple box. And after unboxing, the KEEP is every bit what I expected in a high-quality electronic. It simply looks and feels elegant and modern.
In unsecured mode, you simply double-tap the box and the lid opens. The box lights up green and the LED display shows the word “Open” with an up arrow. Double-tap again, and the lid closes.
But here’s where the magic takes place. KEEP isn’t just about medicine storage, it’s about data storage, too. The app that controls the settings of KEEP, also logs every time the box is opened. So if you’ve ever wanted a passive method of tracking your dosing throughout the day – the data log does just that. You can even enter the different types of products or medicines you use, so you can log exactly what you’ve consumed.
The KEEP has plenty of safety features built-in, too. Simply activate Secured-Mode, and the device won’t open without the Bluetooth connection from your app. Additionally, you can activate Anti-Tampering Mode, to receive alerts to your phone any time the accelerometer is jostled (as long as the box is connected to 2G wi-fi). I had some connectivity issues, but I believe it has more to do with my poor satellite signal than it does with the device.
While we initially thought the LED lights would be too bright for the bedroom (even at the lowest dimming setting), we’ve discovered they actually make a great night light, as long as it’s pointed away from the bed. You can also turn them off completely if the light is too much.
I will admit, I had a few glitches with the app and the time it takes to reboot the box seems excessively long. But I’ve also learned that some of the features I was demoing weren’t available to the general public just yet, so I’m assuming these issues will get ironed out as the app updates are released. Either way, nothing was severe and there were no problems that I could consider “show-stoppers.” Not to mention, I received great support! They have an extensive knowledge base built.
We believe the KEEP will play an instrumental role during our trip to ensure our medicine is out-of-sight and always secured.
- Elegant Design
- Discreet Appearance
- Large Capacity
- Easy setup
- Had a few app glitches
- Slow reboot