6) ElixirConf 2017 - Building an Artificial Pancreas with Elixir and Nerves - Tim Mecklem

ElixirConf 2017 - Building an Artificial Pancreas with Elixir and Nerves - by @tmecklem

People with Type 1 Diabetes have to constantly monitor & control their food, blood glucose, insulin, physical activity and other factors in order to manage this autoimmune disease effectively. Even with advancements like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring, the process is still manual and error prone for many people. What would happen if someone with T1D could delegate the constant cycle of monitoring, predicting and controlling to a computer?

In this session, I’ll get personal about my own journey in supporting my T1D wife using technology. You’ll learn about an open source project called the Open Artificial Pancreas System, or OpenAPS, and how it closes the loop on a cycle that the rest of us take for granted. Then together we’ll explore what happened when I took my knowledge of OpenAPS and Elixir and glued them together with the Nerves Project.

We’ll touch briefly on the topics of hardware prototyping, reverse engineering and binary decoding and how it all came together in one project. Before the session is over, you’ll see an embedded Elixir application talk to a commercial insulin pump through the power of the Nerves Project.

All talks are available in the Elixir Conf 2017 Talks List


Hey, that’s me!


This talk is simply amazing. A must see for everyone, in my opinion!

There’s super cool technology covered and that’s probably the least cool thing about it. This talk is about people, what they struggle with, how other people help out, and more. I want our profession to be just like this.

Full marks!


We are probably going to watch this talk as a group at Upstate Elixir in Greenville SC tomorrow night :slight_smile:


@tmecklem thanks for giving this talk! What you’ve been able to accomplish is very inspiring. I really should dig into nerves some more, seems like an incredibly useful project. Can you talk more about how the communication with the core looping algorithms work? Are you using a port to talk to the node.js algorithms? Was that hard to setup?

We watched this as a group at Upstate Elixir (Greenville, SC) last night and it was a great talk. It wasn’t really heavy on the Elixir details as much as it was educational about the complexity of the problem and how Elixir and Nerves make that complexity much simpler. Everybody learned a lot more about diabetes as well including one attendee who said he better understood his sister’s condition because of the talk.

Overall, just excellent work.

I will say though, the security question at the end is more than a little terrifying.


Do you suppose you’ll ever have an open-source hardware insulin pump to work with?