The Challenge.

AceAge CEO Spencer Waugh first came to Cortex with a simple prototype for what would become a revolutionary method for distributing medication in the home.

Spencer had a great deal of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, and his idea was endorsed by key opinion leaders. He envisioned a medication dispenser that would support clinical trials by tracking adherence and collecting data from user surveys administered right on the device.

Similar devices existed, but they were too expensive, hard to use, and required a caregiver to refill. They introduced more problems than they solved.

Spencer had a key insight: clinical trials could get better adherence, better data, and better results if the dispenser was easy enough for patients to use.

He needed a hardware design partner who believed in his vision. When he reached out to Cortex, we immediately spoke the same language. We decided to invest, which had the benefit of lowering AceAge’s up-front cost.

After we delivered a functioning prototype that was beautiful enough to belong in the home, Spencer and the investment community saw a massive opportunity:

Karie was actually a consumer product.

This niche product intended for clinical trial use turned out to actually be a device that belonged in private homes and long term care facilities, raising patient adherence to prescriptions and making life easier for caregivers.

This functional prototype generated so much buzz that Spencer raised investor funds with a 10x multiple of his initial company valuation from $1M to $10M in less than a year.

The Insight.

  • Total simplicity. A completely intuitive user experience would allow anyone to use the product — even in the home.
  • It’s all about the cartridge. Our industrial design concept integrated the medication cartridge into the device’s external form so it’s obvious where it needs to go. A magnetic clutch cleanly guides the cartridge into place. Like magic.
  • After we delivered the first functional prototype, a strategic investor realized Karie was actually a consumer product and took the plunge.

What We Delivered. 

  • A functional, looks-like prototype for trade show investment:
    • Worked out how to contain multidose pouch packaging within a reusable cartridge
    • Developed a novel cutting mechanism with a retracting blade
    • Custom firmware
    • Electronics
    • Software
    • Industrial design
    • Mechanical engineering
  • Functional rev-2 prototype, including pre-production design:
    • Added safety features
    • Details for cutting mechanism
    • Cartridge details for keeping packaging secure during transportation
    • Design for manufacturability of individual parts
    • Further customization of electronics and drive system


The Result.

  • Cash investment of $2M from Centric Health at a $10M valuation, including a strategic distribution and supply agreement
  • Design has moved in-house as Spencer’s team has grown. Cortex continues to hold equity in the project
  • In 2019, Karie hit the market, and AceAge was selected for the inaugural Amazon Alexa Accelerator Cohort
  • In 2020, AceAge secured Series A funding from Bloom Burton and LongLiv Ventures

© 2021 Cortex Design Inc.

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