We were all generally interested in a project where the technology wasn’t the end, but as a tool to build something that might have an impact. The Metix challenge was very light on technical requirements and highlighted creativity. We reviewed the suggestions provided by the company and spent Friday evening cross-referencing them with academic papers on the topic, which is how we decided to build Pillbox to address medical non-adherence in the elderly.

What it does

PillBox is a progressive web app that alleviates cognitive and motor difficulties in seniors with complex medication regimes. Through push notifications and voice reminders via Google Home, it reminds users what pills to take and when, and checks up on their mental and physical health. It also comes with a physical pill box that can tell when a pill is taken out. This information combined is fed back to the user’s clinicians, removing costly – and potentially deadly – communications barriers.

How we built it

The web app was built using the Django framework in Python, because that’s what our lead developer knew best. The box was built with a Raspberry Pi, communicating with the web app via Python. The Google Home also sends requests via Python.

Challenges we ran into

  • Getting the service thread working (Still not)
  • Installing raspbian
  • Connecting to the raspberry using ssh as you have to manually edit the filesystem to trick into working
  • data connection on raspberry keeps dropping out
  • We have to use a phone to tether as eduroam blocks everything
  • We had to set up a virtual google and use an express app to broacast commands
  • google home keeps dropping out

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Hacking the google home
  • Getting the switch work on the raspberry pi
  • physical resilience (no caffeine overdoses, so far)
  • Getting the whole team up to speed on django and web application development

What we learned

  • basics of breadboards
  • Hardware hacking on raspberry pi
  • That neither raspberry pi or breadboards are edible
  • The basics of progressive web apps
  • Django
  • Google's documentation sucks

What's next for PillBox

We think there’s a strong business case behind the app, and hope that what we’ve built could serve as a proof of concept for Metix. We see good integration possibilities with some of the company’s existing products like their health monitoring hardware.

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