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FudAnt - The app for the ants among us (Update: 8/20/2016)

An app that helps reduces food waste by enabling informed choices during food purchase, consumption, storage and disposal.

Photo of An Old Friend
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I won't compare ants and people, but ants give us a useful model of how single members of a community can become so organized that they end up resembling, in effect, one big collective brain. Our own exploding population and communication technology are leading us that way. - Lewis Thomas

Ants are also obsessed about food. Their lives revolve around gathering, conserving and consuming food. Are you an ant? If so, this app is for you.

Fudant means "awesome" in antspeak.

Overview and Design Objective:

Can we design a food app that eliminates waste by making informed choices in every aspect of our relationship with food?

What can we learn from the the humble ant and other critters in food management , conservation and waste reduction?

This idea emerged from discussions with other OpenIDEO-ites on my previous post here.

The Challenge:

Food waste in household is a complex process affected by decisions consumer take every step of their relationship with food.

Where to purchase? When to purchase? When to consume? How much to consume? When to discard? These are among the many choices that impact the quantity of waste that is generated at households. 

Can we design an integrated application to provide consumers the information they need for better personal and household food management, incorporating waste reduction at every step?

What's are the features of FudAnt? What are the benefits?

  1. Integrates all aspects of a users relationship with food - purchase, consumption, and storage, incorporating waste reduction and conservation every step of the way. 
  2. Incorporates Food-Quality profiles for all kinds of food. This would contain multivariate relationships between taste, flavor and safety for all kinds of food products and produce over its lifetime. This information is obtained through primary research or through crowdsourcing. This is the key idea and the unique aspect of FudAnt. This would solve the "expiration" problem that I discuss here without using multiple expiration dates, and reduce food waste.
  3. Users can share their food habits with friends and 'accountability-groups' to encourage both waste elimination and healthy consumption. (Think FitBit for food)
  4. User scans a QR code on the product (or this is done automatically during checkout). This code would link to ingredients, nutritional profile, food quality profile and more in the FudAnt database.
  5. Users can monitor not just their calorie consumption, but also how much of required vitamins and minerals they have consumed.
  6. Users can check up specific ingredients for products, and find more information on additives
  7. Users can monitor their consumption of sodium, Sodium Benzoate, Food Coloring, Aspartame, MSG, Sdium Nitrite and more.
  8. Today consumers look for ingredients based on recipies they like. FudAnt turns this on its head. Based on the availability of food in the pantry, FudAnt suggest recipes that maximises nutritional value and reduces waste. The app would incorporate statistical learning to understand user preferences and suggest recipes.  Users can also share their favourite recipes with others.
  9. Information of availability of seasonal produce and dynamic information on how it can be consumed or stored for minimum waste.
  10. Scan food at restaurants or food-joints and obtain calorific, nutritional and additive information. This can be achieved either through crowdsourcing of information, or partnering with restaurants to provide information. The app also suggests portions to order based on users past consumption patterns, nutritional requirement and weight loss targets!
  11. Users can monitor availability of food at home, and the app makes suggestions on scheduling shopping trips.
  12. Bulk quantity management. Users sometimes buy large quantities of a certain food product because of discounts. The app allows users to manage their food inventory more effectively. 
  13. Sometimes consumers need only a small amount of a certain product (like spices or condiments).  FudAnt allows users to share such products with others.
  14. Add multi-users at homes. FudAnt can predict the right portion of food to make to keep your family satiated, healthy and happy, and reduce waste in the process.
  15. FudAnt ensures that you get your Daily Recommended Allowance every day.

Looking forward to more ideas from the OpenIDEO community!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Develop a prototype to see if consumers benefit from such an app.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

This idea is fairly rudimentary at this stage. This came about after comments on my previous post set me thinking on how expiration can be better managed. I'd be happy to work with others to have this built, or see some of these ideas incorporated in similar apps. I haven't done much work on this beyond this post (and registering! I'd also love to have a Biomimicry based ideation session to see how we can incorporate insights from the world of ants and other creatures.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a researcher at UNC Chapel Hill. Previously, I worked as an innovation consutant and a product development engineer.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Rachana Vidhi

I like the idea of knowing the nutritional value of all of my food in the refrigerator. And shopping for stuff that can make up for what's missing (may be the app can suggest some options based on the dietary preference). The challenge I see is the evaluation of the nutritional value of fresh produce. I try to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, and they don't have a tag. I wonder f we could use another database (like that of myfitnesspal) to import that information in fudant!!