Pillboc - The Only Smartwatch App for your Digital Pillbox

Jonny Jackson
Pillboc simplifies med schedules for you.
Table of contents

Pillboc simplifies med schedules for you. Features a digital pillbox, dose alerts, refill reminders, and MedBuddies to assist with complex routines.

Intro - Caring through helping

I want to introduce you to my mother; a now 16-year cancer survivor that is under multiple physicians' care. Mom insists on jotting down dates, doctors, and appointment times into multiple colored notebooks. I suggested using a shared calendar with the family, but she finds it easier to write it down herself. I think she is not alone in this. While I respect her choice, I can't help but wonder why doctors and specialists can't sync up their data and information? 

1. Problem meets opportunity

1) As a patient, I would like a more accurate way of being reminded of my medicine intake schedule.

2) As a patient that has access to smart-watch, I would like my reminders to be very easy to use. IF there are multiple reminders, THEN I would need a way to set a SmartCycle

3) As a patient, once my reminders are set, I would like to ensure my network of friends, family and caregivers, are granted permission to my medicine schedule intake; as a fallback if my wearable device is ever stolen, lost or damaged.

The Dangers of Polypharmacy
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts a near doubling of the global population aged 65 and over by 2025, including my baby-boomer parents entering their golden years. The issue lies in social policies, infrastructure, and applications that promote lifelong productivity.

As baby-boomers age, medication dependence is on the rise. 

A large 2019 study found that among English adults aged 65+, around 15% took 5-9 medications and only 5% took 10 or more. Other studies report similar rates.While Siri or Alexa can set reminders, as can AI; my very early research suggests that the aging population requires a more advanced system for managing medication intake, separate from general reminders. No more scribbling down notes – they need user-friendly dose schedulers. A system that blends pillbox as well as a reminder, with extensive capabilities that transforms friends and family into a personal “care network.”

Without it, we put our Golden citizens at extreme risk.

Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US
People in the US who fatally suffer every year from medical errors. Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139

2. Installation: Permissions and sequential reminders

By allowing permission to Reminders, Pillboc could create frequency cycles for medicine dosage reminders that extend the normal "reminders" timeframe allowed. Sequential reminders based on frequency of medicine intake requirements are essential. By also allowing Pillboc permission to Contacts (Favourites), Pillboc can also help assign a Medbuddy, that is, the 1-3 people whom will also have access to FREE SMS-based alerts of upcoming dosages and missed dosages, per medicine. Privacy within Permissions are important. As Accountability is with Caretakers.

3. Experience-Architecture: User Flow

Information Architecture
Many complain that Apple's HIG is restrictive. But I find that restriction is actually good. Designing within constraints always bring about some of the most innovative, and doable usability features that can be realistically implemented. I went with a page-based approach:

• The information architecture is linear, or steps.

• Page-based promotes a true flow within watchOS ecosystem.

• Would allow developers to map to appropriate watchkit interface controllers.

• Follows a ruleset; but leaves room for creative innovation within boundaries.

Modal Sheets
Modal and Actions sheets are also used throughout this App. Per Apples HIG, that is, Human Interface Guidelines, you cannot design a page-based navigation along with a hierarchal navigation. But we can extend our application smartly by taking advantage of using modal and action sheets.

Modal sheet layout wireframe
Modal sheet for Pillboc- watchOS - annotation

Apple WWDC 2016
This is a great way to look back on the advance of Apples Development ecosystem

Apple - HIG - Designing for watchOS

App Architecture - Wearables Flow

Pillboc user flow - Joncreative
Pillboc user flow - Joncreative

4. Your first digital pillbox

Intellisense-Driven & Voice
Intellisense-Driven & VoiceMedicine names are long and watch screens are really tiny. To expedite the interaction, I elected to have an intellisense experience where auto-populated drug names are suggested and immediately, a table (list) is shown for user to choose from. The App would fetch data from the National Library of Medicine databank: NIH Databank and use watchKIT table UI component.

NIH Databank link:

Dictation will be heavily used, again, keeping the active golden ager, at top of mind. Intellisense would take over immediately when the first few characters of the input is recognized. As is consistent with user feedback from similar panels; a less than 2 second threshold.


Dictation is used to speed up longer medicine names, while inputting medicine names are also welcomed. Users have complete freedom between which input method most preferred.

Method, Type & Dosage
There are a variety of intake methods patients are instructed to take medication. From creme and topical ointments, to injections, to inhalers and pills. To help get specific on dosage instructions at the glance stage within watchOS, the Pillboc App specifies which Method the medicine is administered and type, and the Dosage.

These variations are conditional to one another, as such, our original decision of approaching this experience as Page-Based, helps present a linear condition-based approach.

"IF user medicine is administered through a Pill Method, THEN, which type of medicine is it that is being administered? Tablet, Capsule, Chewable?"

These distinctions are vital.

Pillboc users may select an intake method of medicine: Pill, Shot, Creme, so on and forth.
Pillboc users may select an intake method of medicine: Pill, Shot, Creme, so on and forth.

5. SmartCycle - scheduling dosages

Medicine management
This is the nexus by which this App is being made: safe, timely Medicine Management. Given our statistical basis by the U.S. Census Bureau analysis of seniors having an average of 5 pills daily to manage; this App must have the ability to smartly schedule reminders with quantity attached.

Use-case Matrix examples:
{a} "I take 1 dose of xyz medication every 5 hours."

{b) “I take 2 doses of abc medication every 12 hours."

{c} ”I receive ghi injection every 2 days (48 hours), as well as take jkl medication every 8 hours"

For much of the senior population, these scenarios are not rare at all. Smart cycles are assigned per Medicine, so dosage mixups are lowered significantly. But how? We are able to track the mixups on the Tracking chart as you will later see.

SmartCycle Demo
I designed a forthcoming patented scheduling system called the SmartCycle for dose scheduler on WatchOS.


Users can effortlessly schedule medication doses with SmartCycle on WatchOS, ensuring no conflicts and receiving haptic alerts when it is time for the next dose.

6. Instant feedback = eliminating delays

No More LOADING Screens
With the release of the latest watchOS, Apple introduced a no-wait method called "Instant Feedback". By giving users a confirmation modal on data confirmation screens; Apple cleverly buffets the "loading" screen with a message that takes the nearly same amount of time to be read by the user. This gives the appearance of a "no-wait" experience.

On a research spike surrounding this, I discovered that in 2009 Forrester Research proved that most online shoppers expected pages to load in two seconds or fewer. 10 years later, you had better believe that this wait time has GREATLY reduced. If your Application has a loading screen currently, perhaps using an Instant Feedback experience will further encourage users and customers to remain in-app while the requested data re-populates.

Want to learn more about Notification? Sink your teeth into this juicy report from Forrester Research:

Forrester Research - The Art Of Notifications

Instant Feedback flow


Pillboc will sport an “Instant Feedback," a no-wait feature that cleverly replaces loading screens with confirmation modals, offering users a seamless and almost instantaneous experience.

7. The Pillbox

Your pillbox dashboard
The Pillbox is the screen which houses all of the Medicine created by the user in a card-like experience. To drive, the user can either use the digital crown to cycle through or swipe to cycle through. One tap to go into the medicine card or a force touch to bring up the menu. User may also elect to add a new medicine by tapping on the bottom card.

Once the user has set up all of core medicine and dosage information, we create a digital pillbox for our users, with a large indicator showing what time the next dose is due.
Once the user has set up all of core medicine and dosage information, we create a digital pillbox for our users, with a large indicator showing what time the next dose is due.

8. Force touch menu

Available on the Pillbox main screen, the force touch menu house options that are specific to the screen and global to the application.

Force Touch


The Force Touch menu offers a way to Track doses, add a Medbuddy for accountability, and Order a refill of users medicine.

MedBuddies = Accountability

Accountability is significant within Patient Care. Providing users the ability to request an Accountability Partner, MedBuddy, (usually a caretaker), will help significantly lower accidental overdoses and encourage health awareness. The MedBuddy, or Contact, would not have to download a companion app.

SMS - No need for a Medbuddy to have the Pillboc app

SMS messages have a 98% open rate, far higher than email's 2-3% click-through rate. This massive difference demonstrates SMS' potential for marketers. With this in mind, I designed Requester’s' message invitations as simple, friendly SMS notifications with clear instructions: "Type ACCEPT to become a MedBuddy, or DENY to decline." We expect Requestors and Requester’s to be close contacts, so the ask should not be a surprise. All at no cost for either parties.


Watch Pillboc's MedBuddy feature demo. Add family/friends as MedBuddies to get SMS alerts when loved ones need to take meds. MedBuddies monitor medication intake without the app. Simplify complex med schedules for seniors by connecting caregivers. Pillboc enables remote monitoring for peace of mind.

Tracking: Helping to prevent overdoses

According to an FDA statistic outlined in a report by ProPublica in 2013, overdoses are the number one cause of medication fatalities; especially in prescription drugs that have abuse-potential. Along with assigning an accountability partner through the Medbuddy feature; I also wanted to include the findings of Propublica report, through allowing users to view a tracking chart on their watch.

OVERDOSE: Behind the Numbers by Propublica

Tracking in Pillboc

Tracking in Pillboc
Tracking in Pillboc


Coming soon…

9. Complications

Quick access to an app by tapping on it
Complications in Pillboc WatchOS

Complications throughout Pillboc for WatchOS
Complications throughout Pillboc for WatchOS

10. Glances

Quick look
Watch users manage quite a number of other activities on their wearable. At a Glance, it is recommended by Apple to provide users with core information which user can immediately action on. User should have the ability to "take their medicine", "snooze" the reminder, or "dismiss" (miss) the dosage.

Every dismissed action will send a dosage reminder to any Medbuddy assigned. Also, 4 or more snooze taps will also send a dosage reminder to any Medbuddy assigned.


Glanceable - Short and long look Pillboc watchOS


Based on incoming user feedback, I will be onboarding more resources to make Pillboc a reality. If you are interested in being a part of this exciting application, let’s talk. Would love to hear your ideas.

Spread the word

Keep reading