Design an IoT based solution to tackle food wastage.

About Project.

This project was part of MEMSI (MIT Entrepreneurship and Maker Skills Integrator), a two week immersive bootcamp where students from MIT and Hong Kong were tasked to create a Hardware Product to address a viable customer need. The problem my team chose to tackle was Food Wastage. As University students we all had experiences where we were wasting food and feeling bad about it later.

My Role

The team was multidisciplinary with members having varying skill sets ranging from business, engineering to design. While my role wasn’t particularly defined, I worked mainly on UX Design of the Software Product and Android Application Development for the pitch day MVP.

“My Fridge is a blackhole. I'm always buying small amounts; forget what I have, and then stuff goes bad.”

- User Research Quote


User Interviews

We conducted 2 rounds of basic interviews along with a detailed follow up interview by selecting a sample that represents different demographics.

Market Research

Extensive online research was conducted to estimate market size and understand how prevelant the issue was in customer's minds.

Fridge Study

We compared fridges in different settings to understand how usage differs for different segments of the population.

Card Sorting

To categorise our ideas into extremely useful, not useful and somewhat useful, we conducted card sorting activities with a set of sample users.


Key Customer Traits

After rounds of user research some common problems in our customers could be found

cook sporadically because

a) Grocery store is far

a) Inconsistent Schedule

c) leftover food

Can't manage food waste because

a) Irresponsible

b) Busy

c) Forgetful

Feels bad about wastage due to

a) Care about environment (preferable)

b) Economical Value of food

Fridge Analyisis



Communal Fridges were well maintained when there was clear distinction between compartments for each room or fridge owner. However individual fridges were not well maintained as the least used items started to disappear to the back of the fridge.

Market Segmentation

College Student Recent Graduate (24-28) Professionals (28-35) Families
Communal Communal Non-Communal Communal Partner Alone Single Earner Both Earners with Children
Early Adopters 4 5 5 4 3 4 2 2 1
Cooking Frequency 2 times 4-5 times 2 times 2 times 4-5 times 5-6 times 2-3 times 2-3 times 4-5 times
Busy/Lazy 5 4 4 3 3 2 4 5 4
Remorseful 4 3 4 2 2 3 2 2 2
Purchasing Power $1 $1.5 $2 $3.5 $3.5 $3 $4 $4.5 $4.5

User Personna

Problem Storyboard

  • Lauren was walking by a Salad Store on her way home.

  • She decided to pickup a Salad for a quick bite.

  • Unable to finish it, she kept it inside the fridge to eat later.

  • Four Days Later

    she opened her fridge to eat the leftover salad

  • She found her Salad rotten and inedible giving off a grotesque stench.

Iteration 1

The first prototype involved pressure density sensors and LED Lights. Whenever a food item was placed the sensors would record its position and the phone application would ask the user to label the item with an expiry date. The software would remind the user to eat the food item based on how long it is kept inside the fridge (detected by the sensors) such that food is consumed before expiry leading to less wastge. The lights would turn red around the food item which is about to expire such that the user can see what he should eat as soon as he/she opens the fridge.


Jacob Says:

"I usually don't keep the food item back at the same place, it would be very hard for me to remember location each time I pick it up. Plus I don't want to keep on entering the expiry date for every item I put in, plus I'll have to use my phone every time I open the fridge."

Melinda Says:

"Though I like the idea but this would not work for all fridge sizes, moreover I stack items on top of each other which means it will be hard for the system to treat it as a single item."


Elements of Design


Hardware Prototypes

Software Prototypes

The app screen shows the time left on each tag such that the user can consume the item on time. The tag is displayed by color if not labelled, hence the user can rely on his own memory of what item he tagged as which color.

The user can set specific names for the tags or categorise them according to his/her needs.

The app sends fun push notifications reminding the user to finish their food on time.

The app also provides a history view to show the user how good he/she has become at saving food items along with achievement badges to celebrate reducing food wastage.

The team won the jury award at the final showcase pitch