Could ‘fridge selfies’ shame us into less food waste?

food wasteNew tech hitting the British market next month could be a game-changer in the behaviors behind Western food waste. FridgeCam is a wireless camera from UK smart kitchen company Smarter that you stick inside your fridge.  It takes in-fridge snapshots every time you close the door, allowing users to check their food stock in real time. The system can help households slash food waste by nipping overpurchasing and encouraging timely use of what’s already been bought.

According to statistics from Welsh recycling advisory Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the average British family throws away nearly $1000 US of food every year, with bagged salads being among the most wasted foods. WRAP states that British salad eaters (or more accurately, salad wasters) toss 40% of their purchases – about 178 million bags per year – into the bin, uneaten due to wilt or mold.

SmartCamIt works like this. The Smarter FridgeCam takes food “selfies” which are sent to the user’s phone, allowing an instant reminder of what could be on the menu for their next meal. The app also monitors use-by dates, and issues automatic top-up reminders to buy more food products based on remaining quantities. Never be short on eggs again, or spoil that perfect cup of tea with sour milk. Lastly, the system will also suggest recipes based on what’s on your shelves, encouraging users to eat what they already have.

The device is priced below $150 USD, making it a cheaper alternative to smart refrigerators produced by Samsung and Bosch (as example, Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, for example, costs $5,800 USD).

The Smarter FridgeCam is produced by Smarter, founded in 2014 by Christian Lane, a one-time “young entrepreneur of the year”. It is one of a number of new tech initiatives such as mobile apps and scales that calculate the cost of food waste and aim to transform awareness about how we consume.

“The supermarkets tell us that the way we shop has fundamentally changed,” Lane told The Guardian. “People are shopping little and often and using different shops. The more we developed and trialled this technology, the more we found that it could not just help reduce food waste but it also encourages people to shop in a smarter and more efficient way.”

Lane’s research found that the average refridgerator door is opened and closed 20 times daily. FridgeCam collects data with each movement, and uploads its food tracking information into Smarter’s shared consumer database. “Our platform gets smarter by learning from our customer network of FridgeCams,” said Lane. “It is similar to how Tesla automatically improves by constantly learning from all the cars on the road.”

Recall WRAP’s stats of the cost of wasted food, and quickly see the return on investment for this smart gadget. It’s also a perfect gift for us weary of forgetting things on our grocery shopping list.

Images from Smarter

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