My $20 Smart Insulin Pen

Being a Type 1 LADA my progression to full insulin dependence is quite slow (5 years since diagnosis and still only using insulin overnight). For now, I just need to inject long acting insulin after dinner to keep my night-time levels low and to counter Dawn Phenomenon. However, I often cannot remember if I have done it or not. Not wanting to give myself a double-dose, it would be great if I can digitally record when I give myself the injection and when.

Smart Insulin Pens

Smart Insulin Pens exist but are not cheap. The InPen retails for around US$550. The InPen does a lot more than just record injections but most of what it does I do not need so I wondered if I could create something simpler for less.

Flic Buttons

My day job is in low code software (Microsoft Power Platform to be precise) and, in my travels, I came across Flic buttons. These are Bluetooth-enabled buttons which can be used to trigger events via the Flic app on a paired mobile phone.

Attaching the Flic button to my insulin pen would give me the ‘smarts’ I needed. Using Blu Tack, I attached the Flic button just as you can see in the first picture in this article. Pairing was a case of installing the Flic app on my phone, running the app, and long pressing the Flic button. The app “heard” the button and did the rest.

Configuring the Actions

You can trigger off of:

  • Single Press
  • Double Press
  • Long Press

I tried to use the Single Press as a counter for the dosing, and the Long Press for the actual injection.

Count Presses is a standard function under the Fun category. Text Message is under the Communication category.

All you need to do for the Count is specify the name of the thing you are counting i.e. Insulin Units.

For the text message, you specify the phone number of interest and the message to be sent.

The Results

Counting the presses did not work out so well. While the presses accumulated and the total showed on my phone, there was no way to capture the number of presses at one time. The counter, as far as I could tell, only showed at the time of the button being pressed and never reset. The text messaging worked a lot better though.

The message captured the time and the action description, which was perfect.

Conclusions and Next Steps

For around $20 I have a smart insulin button which took me about 15 minutes to set up. While capturing the dosage would be ideal, given it is an overnight injection where the dosage is constant, this is not the end of the world. It is something I will continue to play with though to see if I can find a smart solution. Perhaps triggering a Power Platform Flow (or Zapier or IFTTT) to capture the button presses individually in a spreadsheet and then grouping the presses based on the timestamp will be the way to go.

If you are interested in setting up something similar, head on over to flic.io and pick up some of these handy buttons.

One thought on “My $20 Smart Insulin Pen

  1. Julie May 14, 2022 / 6:43 pm

    What a great idea. I use Levemir twice a day. I enter into my Google calendar as tasks or reminders. Once I have injected the insulin, I click on the ‘Done’ button. Free and simple.

    Like

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