Pill-iD is an app that scans MDMA pills to identify strength, risk level and side effects

Developed by agencies Rehab and Herezie through the By the Network collective, the app is currently a working prototype that aims to save lives.

8 June 2021


As lockdown in the UK begins to ease and therefore festivals and nightclubs prepare to re-open, UK creative technology agency Rehab and French advertising agency Herezie have announced the prototype for Pill-iD – an app that lets users scan pills used in recreational drugs with their phone cameras. The idea is that the app will give instant identification as to what the pill actually is, its dosage, risk level and predicted side effects, meaning that it can ultimately save lives.

In the announcement, the company states that Class A drug-taking is at record levels in the UK, according to the ONS crime survey 2020 that shows how around 1.3 million adults aged between 16-59 took Class A drugs last year. As festivals and nightclubs reopen “the need for drug harm reduction has never been more urgent,” says a press release. “Some relevant charities are worried that ‘pent-up’ energy could increase the amount people take.”

The app is simple to use and users can either direct their camera to take a photograph of the pill, or they can upload an existing picture. Using Google technology, the app’s machine-learning model named tensorflow.js is able to identity the drug by searching Nuit-Blanche, the database that houses different drugs known in the European market. The data is anonymous and untraceable, and the app also states how it “strictly never encourages drug use,” according to the release, “but simply educates on the known risks and information of each one”.

The latest offering from By The Network, a group of 16 independent agencies curated by Per Pederson, the app was made possible through Rehab’s Hack Week programme, where agencies find solutions to societal issues. Pill-iD is currently a working prototype, and is set to release in winter 2021.

“The issue of recreational drugs and the need for harm reduction are a critical health problem across Europe, and we’re proud to have developed this app with Herezie,” says Rob Bennett, CEO of Rehab, in the release. “The topic is undoubtedly taboo for some, but our Hack Weeks all aim to address the real, societal issues – which this very much is. Recreational drug use should not be encouraged, but using technology to help people absolutely should be. If we can save just one person’s life with this app, then we’ve done our job.”

GalleryRehab, Herezie and By The Network: Pill-iD (Copyright © Rehab, Herezie and By The Network, 2021)

Hero Header

Rehab, Herezie and By The Network: Pill-iD (Copyright © Rehab, Herezie and By The Network, 2021)

Share Article

About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.