A pair of engineering students at the University of Calgary created a device that keeps track of how long fresh food has been in the fridge.
Jesse Roy-Cote and Nathan Schleppe, both second-year electrical engineering students, say they hope their creation — which looks like an e-reader and is mounted on a fridge — will help people reduce food waste and save money.
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It works by keeping track of how long food should be in a fridge.
"They would just scan their receipt and it would put their stuff right up on the fridge," explained Roy-Cote.
The device uses data on best-before dates to help determine how much time an item, such as lettuce, should remain in the fridge. If you eat your lettuce, you swipe it off the list.
But if you don't eat it, and that lettuce is close to going bad, the tablet will let you know and recommend a recipe.
"If it went bad you would just swipe it into the waste so that next time it generates a grocery list and it would say 'Buy less than this amount of lettuce,'" added Schleppe.
Assignment for class
Roy-Cote and Schleppe developed the idea in a class called engineering and society, where they brainstormed ways to help people on a fixed income while reducing the amount of food going into the trash.
"People struggle to pay for their food often and this is just kind of giving people that opportunity to save money," said Schleppe.
The students say they'd eventually like to start selling their idea and are now meeting up with advisors. While they think an affordable fridge-mounted device is ideal, they are considering offering an app too.
Sandy Chang, their instructor, said she asks students to think of a social problem they are passionate about and come up with a solution.
"I think a lot of times with engineering we are so focused on equations and the technical aspect and we forget why we are doing this in the first place," she said. "We do what we do because we want to make the world a better place."
Students in past classes have worked with a homeless shelter to create collapsible beds, designed containers for growing produce in northern climates, and come up with environmentally friendly alternatives to Styrofoam peanuts.