Smart Pillbox Prototype

A few weeks ago, I attended the CU Make-A-Thon. At the event, we were given the task of prototyping a solution for a problem faced by much of the senior community.

These are the categories provided:

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With my group, we decided to focus on the health tracking category. A large problem faced by many seniors is being reliable with taking their pills. Most people are very familiar with the basic pillbox prototype which includes seven slots, one for the pills of the week the senior must take. However, there are several problems that this prototype fails to address:

  • Many seniors simply forgetting to take their pills
  • Overdoses
  • Pills getting mixed up in slots


Because addressing all three of these issues required making skills outside of our current abilities, we focused on the first bullet point. During our class’ time at the Fab Lab, we had learned how to code some basic functions for Arduinos, including making some LED’s turn on and off. My group decided on using these skills we had learned to create a pillbox design that would light up when the user touched the correct pillbox slot to take their pills.

Expanding on this idea, we wanted to be able to use this information to connect to a wristband which would some how set off an alarm if the senior failed to take their designated pills at the correct time. However, we did not have the technology available to be able to fabricate this idea, so we focused on the light up pillbox first.

First Prototype

One of our members, Amanda, learned how to code with Arduinos very quickly, so she was able to use her knowledge of Arduinos to set up a pressure sensor. We 3D printed one slot of a pillbox that we found on Thingiverse to get an idea of how the prototype would work. When the user touched the pressure sensor to open the lid of the pillbox, the readings on the pressure sensor changed in accordance.

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Our first prototype was a good start, but it wasn’t perfect. We didn’t have the ability to use the information from the touch sensor have any real use to us without having it hooked up to the wristwatch alarm system which we had no idea of how to attempt.

During our class sessions after the Make-A-Thon, we decided to expand upon this basic prototype. Our group decided upon attempting a simpler design in which an LED would switch off when all the pills were taken out of a slot in the pillbox in order to remind seniors to refill the box. Amanda did all of her coding magic and with that we were able to create the final prototype.


Although I played a part in the brainstorming of this project, I was not able to play a huge role in the making of our prototype because of my very limited knowledge using Arduinos. What makes a great team is everyone utilizing their abilities to add to the team effort. With extensive knowledge using Prezi, I decided to create a visually interactive presentation for our project in order to share with others the making process.

Here is a visual representation of our prototyping process:


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