|Posted by [email protected] on August 13, 2015 at 6:40 PM|
When I was jokingly asked if I could develop a smart device app at the next Hackathon that could remotely tell you what you have in your fridge at home I had to ask myself two questions. Firstly, is this the sort of thing that would get laughed out of Dragons Den and secondly, would such an idea add value for our customers. As daft as it may seem, it’s actually a very good idea and I came to the conclusion that it would add value for our customers by doing the opposite of what the proposer had intended. As well as letting you know what you need to buy, it would also let you know what you already have removing the situations where you have two lettuces perishing away or two 4 pint cartons of milk taking up space in your door tray (read on, a learning fridge could estimate how much milk you have left in the carton). After a bit of thought, I was looking at an all in one money saving, space saving and food waste reduction app. Fantastic.
So what about the technology then? Back in the noughties, item level RFID was the future. Every product would have its own unique RF tag removing the need for retailers to have human stock control and manned checkouts. The idea seemed to fizzle out for many reasons but mainly due to accuracy and security but even if it is introduced not used to its full potential by the retailer, item level RFID could still add value for the customer.
Ok, so every grocery item is tagged and the fridge (or cupboard) contains an RFID reader which reads the contents, what next? Just like item level RFID was the next big thing a decade ago, the latest next big thing is the Internet of Things (IoT). This is the theory of everyday items communicating with each other so all you need to do is give your fridge an IP address and connect it to the internet via household Wi-Fi and you’re away.
So now you’re out and decide to call at the shop. All you need to do is open the app on your smart device and see what you already have at home then decide what you need to buy. But wait!! we’ve already established that (IoT) is about things communicating with each other so that means by using it’s built in location sensor your smart device can contact your fridge and let it know you’re out shopping. What if you’re fridge was a learning fridge that gets to know your eating patterns? Maybe the scenario below could be possible.
It’s Saturday afternoon, the fridge knows you are out shopping because your smart device has told it. The fridge has learnt that you usually have a fry up on a Sunday morning but is aware that you’ve used your last mushrooms with that steak you had last night. You receive a text message from your fridge reminding you that you need mushrooms.
How cool would that be?