Grandma Down


We wanted to develop an application that can be used to assist the elderly while at the same time providing their family members and doctors to check in on them periodically with a simple voice command.

What it does

The hack uses an Amazon Echo to allow users to set reminders for themselves to take their medication. Additionally, it allows users to check in on their older family members..

How we built it

Using Alexa with an Amazon Echo, hacky shell scripting, and an AWS server, we created a skill that allows you to set reminders to take your pills. Data is stored on the AWS server when a user adds a pill, and the server will tell Alexa to remind you when the time comes.

Challenges we ran into

Firstly, none of us had any prior experience with developing for the Amazon Echo, so learning how to integrate everything together was a long, learning experience. We learned along the way that there are various convenient features that are not available to Alexa right now, so we had to develop clever work-arounds to make everything work. For example, Alexa does not support push notifications, which essentially makes up the core of our project. Finding a work-around for it took quite a long time.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Learning how to use the Alexa well within such a short period of time is probably what we're most proud of. Developing for new hardware isn't always easy, and getting a working product in the end is very satisfying.

What we learned

We learned how to use Alexa and the Amazon Echo, as well as various things about storing data on a server and using a server application.

What's next for Grandma Down

We are planning on implementing various quality of life features. Currently, due to not having two Echos at our disposal, we could only implement the check-in feature as a proof of concept. We are planning on fulling implementing it soon after MinneHack ends. We would also like to implement the ability to automatically order your prescriptions using the Walgreens API.

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