How do you feel when your boss tells you, YOU will only get 25% of the break time that you used to get before? That’s only 7.5 mins if you have enjoyed a 30 minutes break.
Well, even though it’s not exactly like that but the University of Waterloo made me feel the same way. My two months of summer break was going to be shortened to 2 weeks starting next year. So, this means that the recently passed summer was my last long summer. At the beginning of the summer, like everybody, I had a question about how I was going to spend the summer. I wanted to learn something new to get myself ready for uWaterloo and have fun at the same time. So, this is where the TU20 Fellowship program came in. To participate in the program, my friend Parmeet Singh and I decided to join this year’s fellowship program and started the project Pill Mate hoping that our project would make a positive impact on our society.
I came to the idea of my project while I was talking to my grade 12 high school teacher. He mentioned how his dad often misses his diabetic medications, but the teacher had no way of finding out until it was too late. So, this got me thinking what if I make an app that has more than just medicine reminders, a feature to notify someone if his/her loved one misses their medications and send patient’s daily medicine-taking habit reports to the doctors. I then thought of turning this into a reality and with the TU20 fellowship resources, I could give it a try.
My friend, Parmeet, took the responsibility of the UI designs, and I decided to take care of programming the functionality of an app. At the start of our project, we initiated our main objective to focus on diabetic patients but later, hearing from users and mentors we decided to make it suitable for all types of people. We planned to design pills, refills, and appointment reminders feature for all type of users. The app would keep track of medications, the user’s habits and help them find more information about their drug.
It sure didn’t take us too long to get started with the app, but we did have to go through many difficulties. One of the challenges, especially for me was storing user’s data and securing their privacy at the same time. I thought of applying Firebase Authentication to ensure user’s privacy, but one problem with that was the user would need the internet connection every time they want to access their reminders list profile. So, I decided to save the data locally on the phone’s memory instead. My plan is to have two options, one option lets you store the data on the database and the guest option would store locally.
There were many other obstacles too, but thanks to our mentor, Daniel Saliba, who showed us a direction on how to solve those problems. He advised us to reassess our main objective due to which we ended up aiming for a general app that is suitable for everyone, not just the diabetic patients. Moreover, he provided us with many drugs info sites and resources. He also offered us many ideas and tips on handling people’s private data and making the app suitable for all age groups.
What did I learn?
I learned a lot from my mentor and the project through this fellowship program. I gained significant real-life programming experience and also discovered how I could use the SQLite Databases to easily save the data. Along with database, I learned Alarm Managers and interactive UI designing.
Not only did I learn technical elements, but I also advanced my technical communication skills. Even though I did not meet my partner in person too often, we used to talk through phone quite often. This way, discussed all problems, and issues that users had and figured out a way to solve them. We also talked to our mentor and attended the group meetings. This helped us to build up our confidence while presenting ideas and we learned many technical ideas, terms at the same time.
Moreover, this project taught us how to communicate with clients (users) and get them to provide us with detailed feedback. I learned the importance of user’s feedback. I realized that we are the very last people to find imperfections if we try to find on our own project and since we are building the applications for users, we should be able to meet their expectations.
Along with learning new things, I also got most of our app done. At this point, through the app, the user can set the pills and appointment reminders. The app can store DIN Number, dosage and quantities of the user’s medication. Also, it allows the user to search their medicine info through our app.
Overall, this fellowship was an amazing experience. It was a great pleasure working with my mentor, TU20 and my friend Parmeet. Unfortunately, the app isn’t in the play store yet but, it will go up there soon.