As I write this, there is the first Apothewell prototype sitting on my desk just inches away. I’ve not touched in more than a week, and it is taking up valuable room on my crowded desk. But I can’t bring myself to move it yet.
The prototype isn’t pretty, and I know that the production model will look a lot different than this prototype. But it will keep its treasured spot on my desk for weeks to come because it was the first big moment in creating Apothewell.
I’ve been building software solutions for over two decades. I know that I can architect all of the complex components that will make up the serverside software, the user website, and the smartphone interface. My only doubt was could I create a physical device that would blend seamlessly with these other services.
The physical device has one main task of providing the right pill well to the door when requested. That sounds easy enough, but what combination of readily available components and sensors can be used to provide that solution? A DC motor to spin the pill carriage. But what type of motor? Google “DC motor” and spend some time crawling through the results. There are thousands of choices, an overwhelming amount of options.
As hard as that was, moving the pill carriage is the easy part. The real issue is knowing when the right pill well is correctly aligned under the door. How do you even keep track of the current pill well? What happens if there is a power loss and the device must startup with no understanding of its last state. How fast is the carriage moving? Too fast? Too slow?
So many issues to solve and there is no room for a mistake. The device must, always, deliver the correct well to the door. I tried and rejected dozens of designs before coming to the current approach. What is that approach? Sorry, that is a trade secret. But like every good design, it is elegant and straightforward.
All of this is why the first time I sent a Bluetooth signal to the device, asking it to move to well nine, and it did, I was ecstatic. It was the first big moment for Apothewell. I spent the next hour just asking the prototype to move to different wells. I was very much like a kid on Christmas morning.
After months of trial and error, I know now that Apothewell is something I can build. I can’t wait to hold the final version in my hands and have it spin up today’s medication.