A 24 hour UI for Veripharm.
The planning phase.
After being made aware of the Distributed Health hackathon by a friend, I arrived at the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center armed only with my laptop. Though the hackathon was based on blockchain technology, I barely knew what blockchaining was. What we created in those 24 hours wound up winning 2 of the 5 prizes awarded at the event, including the grand prize.
Within a couple of hours, I found a team that needed an interface designer for their idea of creating a pharmaceutical tracking app using blockchaining. The team was composed of 2 software designers, a security guru, a long-time employee of pharmaceutical companies, and myself.
The most difficult part of the build was that we didn't know exactly what we were building. We had an idea of the problems faced by the industry and the technology we had at hand, but we didn't know exactly how to solve the problem. After several hours of research into the drug supply chain, we targeted specific problem points in the supply chain that are susceptible to counterfeiting and foul-play. From this point, we developed what interactions would be necessary to track the drugs from raw materials to the hands of the patient. This is where the UI started to take shape.
Building the UI.
Veripharm was built using:
The hardest part of the build.
We were ambitious in our plans for Veripharm, planning on it being used be every vendor and manufacturer at every step in the supply chain, making designing the UI significantly more difficult. Following the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) became harder and harder as the complexities of the interactions needed unfolded. After hours of trying and trying again, we settled on our final design for Veripharm.
The take away.
I'm not sure if it was sleep exhaustion, malnutrition, or a mix of the two, but when Veripharm was announced as the winning project, tears sprung into my eyes. It took a solid 5 seconds for it actually register, giving more evidence to the sleep deprivation theory, but the victory felt in that moment has carried me through many long nights buried in code. Here are my main takeaways from that experience:
"Measure twice, cut once."
This isn't exactly my quote, but the principle of careful planning before execution was vital to finishing this project on time. Consulting with the experts and understanding the necessary functionality before I began the project was paramount.
"Do things that scare you."
Again, I'm not the first to say this, but feelings of incompetency nearly kept me from even beginning this hackathon. What a mistake it would have been to limit because of my own fears.
"Take care of yourself."
These 24 hours took 72 hours to recover from. Pulling crazy stunts like these are occasionally necessary, but I would prefer to plan ahead and not have to put myself through such trials. Oh, and eat something other than pizza every now and then.