Meet the Pill-minder

Mon, Feb 20, 2017

Many of my projects are not born of necessity, but out of amusement or curiosity. Well, here’s one that does both. Without tools, I can be pretty forgetful, especially of mundane things. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at knowing this about myself and coming up with solutions. This is the first physical solution I’ve built, though.

Meet the Pill-minder. I’m pretty terrible at remembering to take pills, even worse on weekends when I don’t follow my normal morning routine. Even when I do take them, I’m terrible at remembering if such a small mundane task really happened today, or if I’m just remembering yesterday.

The Pill-minder is a box with a button, a clock, and a WiFi connection that lives under my medicine cabinet. When I take a pill, I press the button and the clock resets. If the clock is close to the 24-hour mark (or whatever interval is required), it begins flashing. If the timer crosses that interval, it sends a push notification to my phone telling me I’m overdue.

The primary hardware in this setup is the amazing ESP8266 combination MCU and WiFi chip. In this case, I used the awesome HUZZAH ESP8266 breakout board from Adafruit. The ESP8266 combines a b/g/n WiFi chip with a 32-bit RISC MCU, programmable with a number of different SDKs, including the Arduino toolset.

I’m not a huge fan of the Arduino IDE, but I can’t deny that it’s become something of a de-facto standard for makers. Adafruit releases a ton of libraries targeting the Arduino toolset, so it’s become almost too easy to glue these pieces together. You can find my code for the Pill-minder in this GitHub Gist.