There’s an app for that — and Florham junior Kathleen Falcon is designing it!
Above: Kathleen Falcon’s app “Cybersecurity Maze” is an educational game that teaches players about cybersecurity. Players move the Android character through mazes, collecting items like encryption keys and reading text prompts along the way with security tips.
By Dan Landau
Eschewing a summer of beaches and relaxation, Florham Campus junior Kathleen Falcon spent her time designing two mobile apps. One is a cybersecurity educational game and the other seeks to eliminate overdosing on prescription medication. She’s had a busy summer.
For Falcon, her aptitude for app development was sparked in her “Mobile App Development” class in the fall of 2015.
“I started here as a psychology major and I took the mobile apps class for fun. Before I came to FDU, I liked computer science, but I didn’t think I had the skills for it,” she says. “In the mobile apps class, I discovered I had knack for writing apps and my professor was very persuasive in convincing me to study computer science.” She is now double-majoring in psychology and computer science.
The first app she developed — “Cybersecurity Maze” (Android-only)— is designed as a fun way to learn about cybersecurity and safety. It consists of “a maze, where you go through and collect objects that are cybersecurity-related and teach you about cybersecurity. You have to collect all the objects and read the prompts to get to the next level,” says Falcon.
Built on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology App Inventor development platform, Falcon’s app won recognition in their “Most Innovative” category for July’s “App of the Month.” She also presented her app at an MIT conference in June.
The second app Falcon began working on over the summer is one designed to eliminate prescription medicine overdoses. Developed with Neelu Sinha, associate professor of computer science, the app pairs with a smart pill dispenser that Falcon is prototyping now.
Above: Kathleen Falcon and her smart pill dispenser prototype. Designed by Falcon, this device pairs with a smartphone app she is developing with the aim that, together, the app and dispenser will reduce prescription medication overdoses. (Photo courtesy of Falcon)
“The dispenser has the pills and the app on your phone is a notification system,” says Falcon. “We made a pill management device that we printed using the school’s 3-D printer. We made an app, with App Inventor, that can communicate though Bluetooth technology with the two computers in the device: an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. Since it’s a pill management device, we can have notifications sent to your phone saying ‘time to take your medicine’ and a pill tracker to see how may pills you’ve taken, etc.”
(Arduino and Raspberry Pi are both small and simple computers, based on easy-to-use hardware and open-source software.)
Falcon designed the pill device herself (“I learned 3-D modeling software in a month in order to make it,” she says.) to eradicate the problem of medicine overdosing — both deliberate and accidental.
“In an ideal world, this device would replace pill bottles,” she says. “Instead of getting a bottle of pills at the pharmacy, you’d get this device and when the prescription ran out, you’d get a new device preloaded with more pills. The device is tamper-proof and would only dispense pills at certain time intervals.”
She got the idea for this project after hearing about a summer undergraduate research program that pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk ran. Sinha and Falcon applied to the program and received a stipend from the company to conduct the research.
For now, Falcon and Sinha are still developing the app and will present the app and device pair at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) Undergraduate Research Symposium next spring. Falcon also hopes to continue refining the pill dispenser so it would be much smaller than the current prototype.
Share this feature story: