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From old blog: Oct 21st - App Mockups and Update for Mozilla Ignite Round 1

posted Feb 9, 2013, 7:43 PM by Dmitri Boulanov   [ updated Jun 16, 2013, 3:38 PM ]
Posting an update on our work now. We completed several mockups, all of first draft nature.
  • Check out my prototype made in Justinmind prototyper here. You can really see the user flow for the main screens we seek to use - the ones included in the napkin sketch.
  • Dimitry's mockup in Fluid

I will be continuing to work in Fluid, as we can collaborate online and it's usable on Android/iPhone. Will post a version once it's done tonight.

As for the code, the Android version is available via GitHub - just download here and compile it in Eclipse.

Now, to address the questions made necessary by the Mozilla Ignite:

How's it going? How's your app progressing?

  • It's going well, although we could be advancing faster with development (that's if we had a bigger team and were doing this full-time). I feel we have done a good amount of research on what we're trying to do and are now in the development phase, exploring the process and prototyping several versions, before sticking with one (parallel iteration is the approach my Human-Interaction Class at Stanford emphasized as the winning approach to developing websites and apps). I also went to a Business Pitch competition at Boston University (Amr joined in at the end), where I found some find legal and business advice for our project. The judges emphasized verticals -- trying to stick with one use-case first (what's the population with a problem - tackle one well at a time, don't develop a poor general solution). We're supposed to get some business and legal mentorship during business hours at the School of Management at Boston University, which is cool. Will post more as results of the competition are announced
  • The development is going a bit slow, as we only have two part-time developers (me and Dimitry - with me performing administrative tasks and doing research and getting publicity - like the competitions and seeking advisors) - we could certainly use more Android developers. We have a few screens done and hope to wrap up the AWS (Amazon Web Services) integration tonight. I'll be pulling a few nights of coding to get our code looking like the mockups presented above. Check out a screenshot of a working graph that Dimitry sent to me here (we're using Android 4.0):

What's been done?

  • Administrative items, such as this website, domain, user accounts and the brainstorm round and development round applications, as well as applications to two pitch competitions for funding (to pay for the team and hardware expenses), as well contracts with hardware prototype vendors (obtained two hardware prototypes - for sensing body signals)
  • Attended Living Well Through Data conference (will post notes shortly) - learned about our competition and potential partners in physiological sensing technologies
  • Attended Hackanooga (organized by Kelly and Mozilla in Chattanooga, TN) in September - met with Mozilla organizers, other developers - got the experience of hacking a prototype for a fall-detection app over the course of 48 hours (see TripNotify), which got some press. We got some feedback from the locals and other devs, as well as the chance to mentor students at the local STEM high-school. Finally, we met with Dr. George Yu at Variable Technologies and agreed to borrow a prototype of his Node sensor device. We met Dr. Mina Sartipi (professor of Computer Science at Univ. Tennessee at Chattanooga), who later met with us and described to us the studies she's doing for a fall-detection system (our first focus for the system - an alert mechanism - for cell-phone and sensor based fall-detection for the elderly)
  • Attended AT&T Mobile Hackathon, in the hopes of learning more back-end technologies and finding more talent - pitched the idea there (got no more team members). Learned about Parse vs Apigee vs AWS for web-services (met with an Apigee rep, who demo'ed the functionality and spoke with a professional back-end developer). Picked AWS as the back-end technology.
  • Built out team to include a senior software dev, a biomedical engineer and three consultants with good Computer Science and engineering experience (well educated, experience in healthcare included)... need to find more front-end and back-end developers, as well as one more partner for the venture
  • Research into the first few use cases (asthmatics, diabetics, elderly populations, populations with heart conditions)
  • Feedback from a few doctors (check out the spirometer use-case, more coming), interview with an assisted living home CEO (why TripNotify (fall-detection app on a smartphone) won't succeed and what's actually needed instead), feedback from a few business professors (focus on verticals - check out COPD as a use-case, more coming), connected with a few medical students at Tufts Medical School recently (haven't met them for feedback / insights just yet)
  • Initial mockups on the web (see above) - available for feedback - to be provided to MDs and nurses for feedback in the future
  • Initial few screens in Android are done (open source on Github) - with graphing capabilities, Amazon Web Service integration, and Node (infrared thermometer and acceloremeter) and EKG integration coming very shortly (end of the week). We got the AWS (cloud back-end) and Node example apps working on an Android 4.0 phone (Samsung SIII Galaxy). Learning Android (with my two years of Java experience as a junior software engineer) and Amazon Web Services as we go - trying to find more frameworks.


What are some challenges you are experienced / have experienced?

  • Finding developers has been extremely tough. Now I understand what people speak/blog about when they say the opportunity/opening for a software developer versus developer available to be recruited ratio is about 10 to 1. Most developers who did express initial interest (for example, at the AT&T Mobile Hackathon at MIT) have instead joined other, more 'fun' projects (such as making a DJ game using Sphero (I did buy one) - the robotic ball and making a list of the hottest bars in Boston at any given moment using real time data). Fun as they are, I don't believe them to be as impactful in terms of changing the world for the better (go BU Engineering!) as a healthcare system, based on sensors, would be.
  • We are struggling with the team size, as I have been taking care of most of the administrative items and doing research, meeting with business / medical folk, and trying to develop all at the same time, while having a full-time job. It'd be helpful to have a larger team, if we are all part-time based, or raise enough funds to go full-time with the project. I would love to have more developers on-board, as well as a few front-end designers perhaps. Most of all, I'd like to find other passionate people to help me with the direction, brainstorming, and representation of the project (these would be partners of a venture).
  • Neither Amr nor myself have significant development experience, besides a semester of MATLAB class. I have two years of Java experience (a summer at a health-IT company where I did some Windows Forms in C#), but am just starting in Android and in front-end development. Amr has some C++ and a bit of Objective-C experience, but is also just learning - so the prototype we made at Hackanooga in 48 hours (with a bunch of hours spent mentoring the STEM students) was pretty good :) Dimitry brings more software development experience to the table, but I'm not as familiar with his background as he just joined the team and am hoping to get familiar with his skillbase first hand, as we go forth. Tunde, Adam, and Chris have contributed by consulting about a few items for us, but are not working on development at this point in the game (are more part-time consultants).
  • We are still defining the direction for the project, in terms of the use-cases, so it's tough to design and code for something general (the code we have now does exactly this), where we're not sure of who will be the target user. This should be alleviated shortly however, as we do more research and identify our first medical condition vertical. Once that's done, we can sketch out multiple mockups of a specific user flow with the help of designers, write out specifications, and get the developers working on a beta-ready system prototype
  • Our first prototype, TripNotify, when pitched an idea to actual potential users (an assisted living home) flunked, because of a lack of research about the users. It's a great learning experience, as we didn't invest much time and effort into the app - but I have to mark this down as a challenge, considering we totally missed the mark here - the elderly population in a living home is not likely to use a smartphone in this day and age - and their caregivers will not take the responsibility of using one to take medical measurements for them (that's a hospital's or nurse's job) - thus we can rule out some potential users right after this exploration
  • The development of this project has been organic, rather than focused. I believe that adding a focus (through business and healthIT mentorship we seek to gain) will get us growing much faster and help us develop a product in a direction aimed at a beta-test much quicker. This is a challenge / pain that should be alleviated fairly soon, as we gain Boston University (BU) and Mozilla mentorship.

What are you planning on tackling next?

  • Per advice of BU School of Management faculty, we will further research several use-cases for our system (COPD, asthmatics, other populations with chronic conditions) - figure out the problems each population faces, how much does that cost them and the healthcare system, and how we could digitally address those problems with our system and available hardware (and some hardware we could partner with manufacturers on). Continue development of the idea and prototypes, tailoring it to suit the feedback we're getting. Pick one use-case and develop a scalable (for future use-cases), yet specific system to address the problems that population is having with their medical conditions through a mobile, physiological sensor and Web interface - by providing preventative care (actionable items) and event notification capabilities
  • Complete the development of our first prototype, with the messaging, cloud-storage, multiple-device, threshold-based alerts, and separate doctor/patient logins (involving user authorization)... not all of these have to be included at once, but most of them should be - by the application for Round 2 in November. I'm forking what Dimitry has to date (a few screen we have done) and completing a portion of these
  • Find a business mentor at BU, find a biomedical engineering or electrical engineering (for physiological signal processing feedback) professor at BU for mentorship, find an MD for medical expertise consulting (that should be fairly easy in Boston - considering Mass General (the #1 hospital in the US for 2012) is here, as well as Harvard Medical School and countless other healthcare providers) and find some experienced Health-IT entrepreneurs to guide us through the ecosystem
  • Attract more talent: front-end and back-end developers (Android, Java, AWS). Another significant part (or full) time partner. Healthcare IT developers
  • Find additional graphing, cloud, computing and physiological related frameworks for Android
  • Work with Dr. George Yu (Variable Technologies) to get other sensors working on the Node. There is a serious possibility of partnering on the design a peak flow meter (spirometer) sensor for the Node, thus giving us a cheap future spirometer (way to measure how well the lungs are working) to integrate with our system (one which we provided the specifications for). CO2 and some existing optical sensors could be adapted for healthcare purposes with further research.
  • Get more feedback - from medical and healthcare community (schedule more meetings about use-cases), biomedical engineering community (on sensors - plenty of expertise at Boston University), healthcare IT (me and Amr both have some local contacts we are yet to utilize) and general IT communities (on available technologies and solutions to our challenges)
  • With all of the feedback, figure out where some computation heavy or high availability use-cases in healthcare might be (so we can utilize the full potential of the Gig!). Real-time preventative care will involve doing some heavy computation on real-time and historical data, providing actionable items to the caregiver and patients - users of our system - in the hopes of delivering better healthcare
  • Pitch the idea to the judges at Mozilla, folk at BU, and the wider business community (including healthcare organizations)!