PillPal Smart Pill Dispenser

CAD, Electronics, Rapid Prototyping

Built during PennApps Spring 2016, PillPal is an all-in-one pill management platform that helps users set reminders, organize medications, and log daily intake. This was my first PennApps and I went with the general idea that I was probably going to get very little sleep. I worked primarily on the mechanical design and electronics integration; Sean worked on programming micro-controller to work with the Bluetooth module, Elizabeth on 3D printing and laser cutting the parts, and Ernest on the logo design and an iOS app mock-up. 

We ran into a number of challenges that we thought were going to be showstoppers. The most frustrating one being the Bluetooth module to arduino compatibility – Sean must have run through 3-4 different Bluetooth and WiFi modules with limited success, eventually settling on the Sparkfun Bluetooth Mate that we got working on the first night. Another big one was with SolidWorks – at around 11pm the night before the submission deadline, the desktop I was on crashed and I lost every file that I had been working on throughout the day, using the parts that we had already laser-cut and partially 3D printed pieces. I redrew all of the parts from these references and memory by 2am.

The hope is to one day improve the device and software to be able to integrate seamlessly into a user’s current medication workflow and allow users to stay at their current pharmacy, eliminating a mental hurdle potential users must overcome with many existing adherence solutions. With a fully functional device, users simply scan the label on their prescription bottles and pour the contents into designated hoppers, the device does the rest. The software takes the drug, dosage, and quantity info from the label and automatically sends users customized reminders before dispensing the specified pills into a portable container. An integrated sensor logs each interaction and allows users to track their adherence over time and also provide non-financial incentives for sustained adherence.

Team Members

Elizabeth Silvestro, Sean Lynch, Ernest Tavares, Varun Venkatesh

Materials Used

Acrylic, PLA, Arduino Uno, Bluetooth 2.0 module, Perfboard, Assorted Passive Components, micro gearmotors

Project Duration

36 Hours


January 2016


PennApps XIV 3rd Place Overall