THP Hacker Bio: John Costik

A surprising amount of entries for The Hackaday Prize are medical devices, and the regulatory problems associated with that domain. [John Costik]’s Diabetes Data, Everywhere is one of the few projects that is perfect for a world where the words ‘hack’ and ‘FDA’ simply cannot be found in the same sentence.

[John]’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a very young age, and very early [John], his family, and the school nurse have had to deal with the nearly innumerable tasks that type 1 diabetes management entails. A Dexcom continuous glucose monitor is a big help, providing a wealth of glucose logging in a small, wearable device.

This monitor, however, is relatively locked down; the stock device is unable to push data to the Internet. [John] reverse engineered the protocol for this glucose monitor, enabling [John] to monitor his son’s blood glucose levels from anywhere on the planet.

There’s a huge community of people waiting for the technological advancements of the last thirty years, like the Internet and portable, networked devices, to make it into medical devices. [John]’s project has already gotten a bit of local news coverage, and is a perfect example of expanding the capabilities of existing devices to make his and his family’s life more convenient.

Bio/interview below.

Music, singing specifically – I’ve had the opportunity to play amazing roles in several musicals locally; recently I was honored to be Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I received a “Theater Arts of NY” (TANYS) “Outstanding” award (their highest honor) for the part.

It is a wonderful contrast to a life focused on very technical tasks (work or type 1 diabetes)

I am old-time gamer, having lived in Japan as a teenager, about the time of the Super Famicom release… video games still get my attention, though it is mere minutes a day, if that.

I am currently employed as a Programmer/Analyst, past jobs focused on systems engineering and software engineering

My family. I adore them and look forward to fewer “full” days and more time with them

Inkjet printers. Maybe because I once worked for Kodak’s consumer inkjet group, but no matter the brand, they’re all pretty horrible, expensive and unreliable at best.

I’m pretty agnostic on this, and aim to be that way with most technology – whatever platform or tool will help me accomplish my goal, I’m going to use it.

Pretty new to the actual bench work, but a solid soldering iron and a dremel (to carefully dissect with)… those are up there on the list.

Again, perhaps showing my lack of true hacker cred… or, like the rest of life, I go after whatever will make our world a bit easier to live in, whatever is most useful at the moment; in that case,  it would be a Pololou Wixel.

I have a fondness for C for keeping me pretty honest, Java & C# for quick work.

  • DIY artificial pancreas
  • Carbohydrate scanner
  • Cure for type 1 diabetes

We needed it. The ability to remote monitor the single most important piece of information that informs my son’s immediate and long-term health is priceless. All of the parts were sitting on the table, I needed to put them together and rob type 1 diabetes of any victories it ever thought of claiming.

Time management and task prioritization; I tend to get listless or distracted, so getting things done can be an issue. I have spurts of incredibly fast and productive work, but I spend far too much time drowning in a sea of tasks and ideas.

Great! I will continue to refine my personal system and design through the competition, with a heavy focus on data aggregation and some exciting open-source hardware integration projects to support that.

The biggest issues tend to be with divergent designs. Since much of my code is already widely being used, there are several branches that are missing, what I would consider, hard requirements for reliability and safety. But that’s really on me, – I need to work closer with the wider community to help guide those decisions based on nearly 20 months of experience with this system. Again, it comes down to time and task management, with a full-time job, diabetes-dad duties (~300+ tasks a day), and the need to spend time off the grid with my family… well, it becomes very challenging to get it all done (it hasn’t happened yet!)

A big thank you to the enormous community of users and developers that have given rise to a wonderful, much-needed tool for thousands of families. I am proud to have supplied the initial code, and love seeing so many good and loving people driven to do more, freely and openly.

I have thousands of ideas churning, and hope to help find even more ways to make the lives of type 1 diabetics and their loved ones better.

6 thoughts on “THP Hacker Bio: John Costik

  1. One of the best gifts you can give your child is the knowledge that whatever they have to face, they don’t face it alone. I don’t know if this is HAD prize worthy or not. But it is Dad worthy.

  2. @dizot yes, both projects are similar. However, while shugatrak texts manual readings from fingerprick readers, John Costik’s project integrates with a Continuous Glucose Monitor which tracks blood sugar levels every 5 minutes, all day, every day!

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