Nicole Plotnik


STEM II, taught by Dr. Crowthers, is a group assistive technology project where we engineer a product to solve a specific problem. Working in groups, we learn the designing and prototyping process of engineering a viable product.

A Smart Novel Automated Pillbox

For STEM II, my group, including Arnav, Shreya, and Peter, made an automated pillbox that can track medication adherence. Our Assistive Technology project was also a crossover with our Apps for Good project. You can click here to see the application part of our project. In addition to creating a pillbox that is able to sense whether the user has or has not taken their medication, we created an app that connects to the pillbox and is able to track medication schedules.

Problem Statement

As people get older, they tend to take more medications, and can become more forgetful about when they need to take their medications. My group did research on a phenomenon known as ADEs, or Adverse Drug Events. ADEs occur when a medication is taken incorrectly, whether that includes being taken at the wrong time, in the wrong dosage, or taking the wrong medication completely. Our project is targeted towards those who take a lot of medications as well as those who are sometimes forgetful when it comes to taking their medications.

Design Approach


The goal of our project was to design a pillbox that is able to sense whether the user has or has not taken their medications and is able to inform their caretaker of that information. Because our client takes medications at three specific times during the day for all seven days of the week, we designed a pillbox with twenty one compartments: three for each day of the week.


We prototypes with three different kinds of sensors in order to decide which one would best work for our pillbox. The three sensors we tested were weight sensors, infrared light sensors, and magnetic reed switch sensors. Ultimately, we decided that magnetic reed switches were the best sensors for our box as they met the most of our criteria compared to the other two sensors, and they were most easily integrateable in a pillbox design.

Final Prototype

Final Prototype