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Expire: The App That Reminds You When Your Food Is About to Go Bad [Update 10/15 - Website Addition]

"Expire" is an app that catalogs food expiration dates and reminds you when food is about to expire.

Photo of Sierra Semel
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Have you ever purchased food at the grocery store, then completely forgotten about it because it sat in the back of your pantry? Next thing you know, you are cleaning expired food out of your fridge or pantry. “Expire” is an app aimed with reducing this type of food waste.

After grocery shopping, simply take your phone and scan your receipt. Our hope for “Expire” is to catalog product names and their corresponding expiration dates, and remind users before their food goes bad. Each user can program how often and when reminders will be sent. If the food item is without an expiration date (such as fresh fruit) the user will manually input the product. "Expire" will offer an expiration suggestion based on pre-programmed information related to how long the food will typically last.

Additionally, the app will have a section called, "My Pantry." In "My Pantry" the user can easily see what food they purchased and its expiration date. Once the user finishes consuming the food, they can remove it from "My Pantry" so reminders will not be duplicated. This section of the app is helpful for grocery shopping, as its aim is to prevent users from accidentally buying food they already have at home.

Visit our new website! http://expire-app.com

Possible Expansions:

The information above describes a minimum viable product; however, there are many areas of possible expansion the “Expire” team is interested in pursuing.

  • Recipes: “Expire” could offer possible recipes based on the food in a user’s “My Pantry.” Also, “Expire” could suggest recipes based on how ripe it knows a food is, referencing the expiration date cataloged in the app. For example, if “Expire” noticed you had avocados close to expiration, it could send you a recipe calling for ripe avocados.
  • Personalized Coupons: Since “Expire” knows your purchase history, it could track your most commonly purchased items and then send you coupons and/or sales alerts for these items at your local and/or preferred grocery stores. 
  • Beyond the Expiration:
    • Freezing Food- People will often freeze their food to make it last longer. However, during our customer discovery, we found that many people do not know how long these products will last in the freezer. "Expire" could have an option for freezing food that changes the expiration date based on typical shelf life of that product in the freezer. 
    • Shelf life After Expiration Date- Often times, food will actually last longer than the expiration date says it will. "Expire" could offer up suggestions for how long a product typically lasts after the listed expiration date. 


Customer Discovery:

Throughout the past week, the "Expire" team surveyed and gathered feedback to gain a better understanding of what people would like to see in the future of food-related notifications.

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To collect data we used Survey Monkey, which generated 120 responses. Additionally we conducted roughly 70 in-person surveys. Based on these surveys we synthesized the following information:


Roughly 80% of people are interested in receiving reminders about when their food is going to expire (online survey):

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The results of this question proved our main assumption – people want food expiration reminders. This validation is extremely encouraging.

Additionally, we found a significant amount of food waste is attributed to people forgetting to eat it before expiration.

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After conducting in-person surveys, the “Expire” team synthesized participant comments and suggestions.

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We found 4 key features people want from the “Expire” app:

  • Quick and Easy Input of Items Purchased
  • Coupons/Discounts
  • Recipes
  • Digital Shopping List


We analyzed the combined data from the online and personal surveys to determine what additional features people would like to see in “Expire”. The following graph displays these results:

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Survey demographics:

While most survey responses were collected from people in Richmond, VA, many survey responses were received from outside the region: California, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.  Additionally, a wide age range was surveyed as shown by the following distribution:

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Prototyping:

The “Expire” team has recently been brainstorming and testing various layouts for our app.

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We have made many changes from our original design based on feedback from those who tested our initial prototype.

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The following video portrays the basic layout we have decided on for now: 


Customer Journey:

Our team envisions that "Expire" will change people's behavior when it comes to grocery shopping and food consumption. When people go to the store, they will check the "My Pantry" and "Shopping List" sections of the app. This will allow them to see what items they already have at home and what items they need to purchase. Once they finish checking out, users will be able to scan their receipt and their purchase information will be cataloged in the app. When a user's food is approaching expiration, "Expire" will send a notification. Then, they can use the "Recipes" section of the app to find a way to cook the nearly expired item!

Check out this short video that illustrates our idea of the "Expire" customer journey. 


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

I have conducted surveys, online and in person, to gain a better understanding of consumer need and interest surrounding food notifications. Here is a link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3BJRSD8 View our survey results at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4yWTsAeC9WsdzlxNk40Tm5aN28

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

I have never developed an app before so I would need guidance in this area. Also, digging deeper into customer discovery and understanding the problem further would make a large impact on the future success of “Expire”.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a full-time undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, I am also enrolled in the da Vinci Center pursuing an undergraduate certificate in Product Innovation and apart of the Innovate Living Learning Program. Additionally, I work for the Science Museum of Virginia as a STEM Ambassador.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

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

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

I would point out numerous items in her fridge that are expired or near expiration. Then I would tell her that "Expire" is an application that would send her notifications when her food was going to expire. This way, she wouldn’t forget about the food she purchased, and end up wasting it because it has gone bad.

How is your idea unique to the space?

Similarly released apps require individual entry of each item purchased. Based on customer discovery completed thus far, this is too much of a time commitment for most users. "Expire" is unique since it allows the user to scan their receipt, instead of each item separately. Furthermore, "Expire" aims to have additional features, such as possible recipes in "My Pantry" and personalized coupons, which would set "Expire" apart from the pack.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

In order for "Expire" to be able to scan receipts and recognize this information, partnerships with grocery stores would be necessary. Grocery stores would benefit from being involved since the personalized coupons and discounts section of my app would be a form of advertisement and revenue generation for them.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

After the launch of "Expire" we plan to distribute surveys to our users. We hope to see "Expire" save money and reduce food waste.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

My team and I hope to begin to develop a minimal viable product and continue to develop "Expire" after this challenge has ended. We want "Expire" to become a reality.

72 comments

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Comment
Photo of Carolina Mndz
Team

This is great idea. If all it takes is to download and app and scan the product as I go. This is amazing. It is a common thing that product expire because we forget to check.

Good luck!

Photo of Chris Eberhardt
Team

Sierra Semel recently a similar idea popped into my head and I wanted to come back to this challenge to see if there was anything else already in the works, I found your idea. Has there been anymore progress? I'm not an app developer per se either, but the first thing is just breaking down the process into pieces. Maybe you can send me an email outside openideo to chris.eberhardt at boundariesandcrossings.org.

Photo of OnlineIdeator K
Team

Hey Expire Team:

First, let me congratulate you on your journey so far. Appreciate the efforts you guys have put in developing this model.

My understanding - Your Target customers would be People who are busy (Working people, parents, etc...) Since time is of the essence for them, it would be difficult for them even to scan a bill why make them even scan a bill?- (While this should be one of the options you can have in your APP)

Below are few thoughts that you can research on (I am sorry if I am being repetitive and if you have already investigated and eliminated these options)

Customers use Credit cards, Loyalty cards, Mobile Apps (provided by retailers) and online ordering system. (Or Cash Purchases)

If you can partner with the retailers or loyalty card providers, you will get skew level information (What they purchased, etc..) Through this, you can also identify the expiry date of the products and send users the necessary alerts.

You can do the same thing with people who are using Apps or website to order.
The problem -
Retailers are hesitant to share the sales information -

The Solution that I see is -


1]. Form Strategic Alliances. - This is your best bet

2]. You can have your algorithms run on the retailers' systems. This way they do not have to share the data with you. You can protect your code by providing them with an executable or just by calling it via a Webservice.

Wish you all the best! 



Regards, 
Ideator! :) 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you for all of the encouragement and feedback! These past few weeks have been very exciting and we are looking forward developing our idea further!

The Expire team thinks that utilizing something like loyalty cards is a great idea! We considered this option when brainstorming and will continue researching the idea in the future in order to optimize the "Expire" experience!

Thank you for your enthusiasm and feedback!
Sierra

Photo of Aayushi
Team

Brilliant idea! very simple and easy to use! it would save not only the food wastage but also expenses in terms of buying groceries. I really loved the way it gives a combination of recipes in order to utilise it!

I was wondering if this app could also give like specific information like where to store or under what temperature that particular food item should be stored as I believe a lot of food items get wastage in the pantry due to wrong storage places! 

Regards,
Aayushi

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Aayushi,

Thank you very much for your feedback!  We are currently looking into providing preservation/storage suggestions for different foods. It would be a great addition to our app!

Thank you,
Sierra

Photo of Ali
Team

Is there a way were instead of manually entering the date, if we can just scan the bar code and it can directly get the product name and its expiry date?

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Ali,

Yes, our hope is that users will be able to simply scan their receipt after shopping  instead of manually inputting information. 

Thanks!
Sierra

Photo of Ali
Team

The prototype looks great :) and hopefully we will  be able to save up a lot of things and utilize them before they get expired specially dairy products. 

Photo of Ha Joo
Team

Dear Expire team,

This is  really nice application.

the suggestions is that team can add another option to guide users how to preserve some kinds of foods that not have expired day like fruits and vegetables. These information will be helpful because some products will be better if we store in the fridge, whereas others are not.

Cheers,

Hajoo

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Hajoo,

Thank you for your feedback! I love your idea of providing suggestions regarding the best way to store/preserve different foods. We will definitely consider integrating this idea into "Expire" in the future. 

Thank you,
Sierra

Photo of Irene Pang
Team

Really nice idea, especially for the bar-code. As other comments mentioned that some similar apps have been already created, from my perspective, this good idea still does not get that popular because most of apps ask people to insert the food information one by one themselves. Convenience is really a crucial element. If scanning receipts can work, it defiantly will help. Look forward to the success of your idea.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Irene,

I completely agree. The apps currently on the market require either manual input or individual scanning of each item purchased. Through our customer discovery process, we found that people will not invest this much time cataloging their food into an app. We hope to partner with grocery stores to make scanning of receipts possible!

Thank you,
Sierra

Photo of Dr. Nargis
Team

Though the idea is nice, but there are already numerous apps on this issue. This one MyKURA is extremely nice and does almost every thing you have proposed or even more. May be it is worthwhile to assess MyKURA before investing thousands of dollars in an app that is already on the shelf!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.gr.java_conf.indoorcorgi.mykura&hl=en

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Dr. Nargis, 

Thank you for the feedback. We continue to conduct competitive analysis and will add MyKURA to the list. “Expire” aims to transform the grocery shopping industry with the overall goal of reducing food waste. We believe this is the next logical step for grocery shopping in the twenty-first century.

Thank you,
Sierra

Photo of Miles McCrimmon
Team

There's so much to like about this idea. In our busy family with two teenagers and two primary grocery shoppers, my wife and I have used Wunderlist with some success, but that's really just a list-making app without the inventory features of Expire. Too often, we buy products on the way home from work without checking our own pantry and refrigerator and end up with two sets of eggs, milk, etc. The synergy with grocers is particularly interesting. It's in their best long-term interest to participate in a system that encourages consumers into patterned buying.  Some families, including my own, actually stop buying certain foods for a time after "going on probation" (as I call it) b/c of throwing away another pair of rotten avocados. The recipe idea (based on the elegant simplicity of using what's going bad in the fridge) takes all the maddening guesswork out of the daily grind of deciding what to have for dinner. Bravo.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Miles,

Thank you so much for your positive feedback! Check out our website:
http://expire-app.com and subscribe to our mailing list to receive updates on Expire’s progress!

Thank you for your support!

Sierra

Photo of Dimitri
Team

Hi Sierra,

It sounds like a very good idea. However, you mentioned that customers can simply scan their receipt and the “Expire” will automatically input the produce names and their corresponding expiration dates. This means, producers/supermarkets need to modify their system in order for this app to work. Thus, there will be additional costs associated with it. How do you convince the producers/supermarkets to incorporate this new innovation into their systems?

Apart from that I love the idea to prevent food waste through mobile apps, especially in this information age! Good luck with your idea.

Best Regards.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Dimitri,

The personalized discounts/coupons section of "Expire" would act as a major incentive for stores to get involved. In this section of the app, users will be notified of discounts and coupons at participating stores. This would be a form of advertisement and revenue generation for the store. 

Thank you for your feedback!
Sierra

Photo of Dimitri
Team

Thank you for your explanation Sierra!

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

Hey Sierra

Assuming you can overcome the issues listed below regarding inputting the barcodes etc., I think the following could be cool;

If users could create a shopping list (or one was generated by the app after a few weeks based on what the person usually buys) and things they already had would show up in red or something. For example, every week or so when I do shopping, there are standard items on my list, like milk, juice, cereals, meat, etc. There are maybe 10-20 things that are a staple, but these are things I must remember nonetheless. I can only imagine that this is a lot tougher for parents buying for the whole family, and so a standard shopping list (whether created by themselves or by the app), to which they could easily just add anything unusual (e.g. wine for a party) and instantly see what they already have could be nice. Maybe it could even sort similar items so that they would know which aisle things are in, rather than have to go back and fourth around the shop (speeding up their shopping).

Apologies if this was already your intention, but from my reading I assumed you were thinking of an interface that would show what you already have, but would have to navigate to another screen to show a shopping list, and have to create your own shopping list.

I love the recipe idea too and I wish you all the best with the project!

Photo of Brett Bowker
Team

Hey Micheal!

That is a great idea! We are actually looking at including a feature just like this into Expire. I love your idea of it keeping track of your past purchases and suggesting items for future lists! We will definitely have to look at the viability of including that into the feature! 

We also had the idea to allow sharable lists to link among multiple people, which could be an added advantage for the tough challenge of shopping for the whole family!

Thanks so much for your feedback! Glad to see you're as excited as us for Expire!

-Brett (an Expire Team Member)

Photo of Timothy Allison
Team

Sierra The app sounds like an awesome idea to help people work on reducing the waste they produce. 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you, Timothy!

Photo of Brett Bowker
Team

Hey Tim! 

We're glad to see you're just as excited as we are! 

-Brett (an Expire Team Member)

Photo of Jessie Dong
Team

Love the idea of sending receipt based on what you have in pantry and fridge to help you finish off the food you have purchased. 
The discount information is good to retain users. But sometime it will encourage people to purchase food that you don't really necessary need which may potentially become waste. This will defeat the purpose of this app.
The major problem of this idea is find the easiest way of data input. 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Jessie, 

Thank you for your feedback! I agree that discounts and coupons can sometimes encourage people to buy more than they need; however, the discounts provided in our app would be personalized. This would mean that the suggested coupons and sales for the user would be for items they commonly purchase. I think this would decrease impulse buys that come from browsing through coupon books at the grocery store. 

Additionally, I agree that the major issue we have is to provide quick and easy input of data. This is why, we thought that scanning the receipt would be a good solution. For this to be possible, we would most likely have to partner with grocery stores. 

Thank you!
Sierra 

Photo of Jessie Dong
Team

Hi Sierra,
Personalised discounts is a brilliant idea! I am looking forward to try this app when it become alive. 

Partnership with some major grocery stores may be a good idea.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Jessie,

Thank you for all of your support! 

-Sierra

Photo of Ali
Team

This is a really good initiative and very unique way to keep a check on the expiration so that the food doesnt go wasted.

Photo of Brett Bowker
Team

Ali,

Thanks for your support! We too are excited for the potential of Expire! 

-Brett (an Expire Team Member)

Photo of Antoine TRAN QUAN NAM
Team

Hello,
My name is Antoine (French), just in case you see some grammar/english mistakes that you do not freak out! :)
I love the idea and I think this is great. I was thinking that if people waste food because of expiration, it is because they did not forecast well their consumption. And in some cases food will be lost anayway because you can forced someone to eat 3 avocados the next day if he had other plan. Do not you think by estimating well the almost expired food of an area that you will be able to provide food to people that are in needs by sharing this information to a public service our an association like "Restaurant du coeur in France" who will collect and distribute the food in short time period? For example you can allow a user to say I give this type of food which expire in 3 days or 2 days. For example when people go to vacation they always leave in the fridge many food that will expire during the time they are on travel. Best of luck for your projet! 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Antoine,

You bring up some great points!  We are hoping that "Expire" will aid those who struggle more with planning ahead. The app will feature a calendar/timeline based view that will assist people in scheduling their meals. 

Also, I love the idea of having a donation option built into the app! We will consider this when moving forward! 

Thank you for your feedback! 

-Sierra

Photo of Joshua
Team

I love the direction this app is taking, especially with the discount alerts. I usually don't have time to look into discounts on my own, so this feature would really help me save both time and money! Also, I have a grandmother who usually spends hours searching for coupons in the local papers, with this, she'd be able to enjoy more of her day.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Joshua,

Thank you so much for your encouragement! My mom  also spends a lot of time looking for coupons to help save money on groceries. Personalized  coupons would save her a lot of time.

Thank you!
Sierra

Photo of Tej Patel
Team

Hey Sierra,

This is a really good idea, one suggestions include :

1) Developing a piece of hardware which can be stored in the fridge. Essentially what this would do is it would monitor the air samples exhaled by certain foods and based off that sample, link up to the app which would notify the user that these foods and quantity in your fridge is about to go off. Ideally Developing such hardware would require a lot of testing of a wide spectrum of common foods , however you could set up a system which would let everyday users to record or submit a sample of a food product which could be added to a database and reconfirmed by a test team. As an incentive for everyday users providing such data, you could offer discounted coupons to various grocery chains or points which could lead to a gift card etc.

Good Luck with this idea.

Regards

Tej.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Tej, 

Thank you so much for your feedback!  You have some great ideas that we may consider as options for possible expansion in the future.  

Thank you!
Sierra

Photo of Nai Xuan Chen
Team

I have think about similar things in my university assignment. But I found that there are many app available in app store to remember expired date or scan the bar code of your foods(basically provide by supermarket). The problem is that we don't want to input the data by typing every detail or scan one by one. If there is not enough data on the receipt, that's technological problem, you may consider cost to change the receipt system. If there is no access of data, maybe supermarket do not willing to provide it. So partnership with them may be a good idea, you could get their customer base and their coupon as well. furthermore, the recipe function could be linked to shopping list and remote control of your refrigerator. Input of data is relatively easy than remove it from My Pantry. Sometimes there are quite a lot ingredients being used in single meal, it take time to remove it.
Maybe click the specific dish in recipe could remove these ingredients together? 

I have think about RFID, if our foods can use this maybe the data management will be easier. But there are new difficulty though. 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you for your input, Nai! 

As you mentioned, there are a few apps on the market that already remind the user of approaching expiration dates. However, I think the main issue with them, as you pointed out, is that they take too much time to input data. This is why I think that scanning the grocery store receipt would be a simple and quick solution. As you stated, this will most likely require partnership with grocery stores.

Additionally, I like the idea of being able to remove all ingredients from "My Pantry" in one recipe. Small details like this will make my app much more user friendly.

Thank you for your feedback!
-Sierra 

Photo of Allison
Team

Sierra-I would totally download this app! I love the feature about possible recipes I could use that would incorporate my expired goods! Its infuriating wasting food, this app is a genius idea to solve an everyday big problem! Awesome!

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you, Allison!

Photo of Rachel
Team

Hey! I really like your idea as this is a daily problem that I face, below are just some thoughts I have regarding the input method.

I can't really imagine how the barcodes could work?
-if it's scanning a barcode on the receipt - does this mean you need an official partnership with the stores, and your app will only work for products sold in those stores?
-if it's scanning the barcode on the food item - I don't think eggs expiring in 2 or 2.5 weeks would have a different barcode? + have the information stored on a system that you can access to.

Would a hybrid input method be a better solution?
E.g. 1. have the users take a photo of their receipt, then use OCR technology to scan and digitize all the items on it.
2. move to a screen that looks like the Google calendar 'month' view (on mobile), so users can tap on the dates, then tap on all the items that will expire on that day (the list of items are generated from scanning the receipt) 
In this way, the users manually input all the dates, but they only have to tap on the dates and items, and it does not require any typing.

Also, back to the basics, are words the best way to store and present these information to the users?  Or would some people prefer pictures?  Then you won't even need to implement the OCR part, the input method can go like this:
1. tap on the date on the calendar
2. snap a photo of the products expiring on that day
then you can show all the products as a scroll-able photo album, with the things expiring earlier on top.  Personally, I find this interface more appealing that one that is full of words :p.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Rachel,

These are some great ideas! I really appreciate the feedback. I especially like the idea of giving users the ability to snap a picture of the item they purchased. I think that many people may also prefer to see pictures instead of text.  The only issue is that there a large majority of people who will not want to have to take a picture of every item they purchase. I may consider making this an optional feature.

Additionally, you asked if scanning the barcodes of the receipts would require official partnership with the stores. To answer this question, it would require the stores to allow me access to their database of product information. However, this would not require any additional work for them, so I think that with the right incentive that they may willingly get involved. In the "possible expansion" section, I talked about personalized coupons. I think that stores would be more than happy to be involved if this part of the app came to fruition. The notifications of discounts and coupons sent to each user would be a form of advertisement for the store. Additionally, I am currently looking into what information a receipt barcode contains. If this barcode does not already contain information on expiration dates, then the next logical step may be to have grocery stores add them to their receipts. This is just one of the possible solutions I am looking at as of now. 

Thank you for all of your suggestions and feedback!

-Sierra

Photo of Izoel Aguiar
Team

Good Idea! perhaps the tricky part will be getting all the codes for each product right, i don't know if all the supermarkets carry an international code for each one,  if they do then this is a very viable app to develop.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Izoel,

I am currently doing more research on this. Based on what I am finding, it seems like this would very possible! 

Thank you for your feedback!
-Sierra

Photo of Esra K
Team

Great job!  Definitely will help eliminate waste and save money 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you for your support, Esra!

Photo of Sara Maddox
Team

This would be a great app to prevent food waste.  I would definitely use it!

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you! 

Photo of Evelyn N McAllister
Team

Wonderful idea! I can see myself using this app a lot -- I am constantly forgetting about a package of meat that gets pushed to the back of the fridge or not buying milk at the store because I don't realize the gallon at home is expired. The "recipe" expansion is very exciting! 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Evelyn, 

Thank you so much for your encouragement!

-Sierra

Photo of Ivo Dimitrov
Team

I'm sorry to bring down the enthusiasm of idea creator, but it is build on an entirely wrong assumption. Receipt bar-codes contain a concatenation of [Date + Store ID + Register ID + Transaction incrementer for that register] or [Date + Store ID + Transaction incrementer for that store].  Even individual items bar-codes don't have any expiration date info.

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Ivo,

Thank you so much for your feedback! I appreciate all the input that I can get.

At this point in the challenge, the refinement phase, my main focus is to conduct as much research as possible, gather feedback from the community, and begin minimal prototyping.

I am, however, being advised during this process. This advising has provided me with a lot of insight, much of which I cannot share publicly. As of now, I am looking at a few options to fix the problem that you raised.

One possible solution is to pair general expiration dates with product names on the receipt. For example, if a user scans their receipt, “Expire” would recognize that they purchased bananas. “Expire” would tell the user how long the bananas will most likely last, based on a banana’s typical shelf life.

Through the customer discovery process, I found users do not want to spend a lot of time inputting expiration dates. This is why I thought scanning the receipt would be a quick and simple solution.

However, this is just one possible solution. Do you have any ideas or suggestions as to how this problem can be solved?

Thank you again for your feedback!

-Sierra

Photo of Ivo Dimitrov
Team

I see that you have great enthusiasm for your idea. I also applied for this challenge but my app was not deemed worthy to pass the first stage.  Maybe i had to put a bit more extravagant description to be noticed ;). 

However, I'm an experienced systems designer and software developer. As an expert in food waste matters I know what is possible and what is just a wishful thinking.  Scanning and  OCR-ing recipients is HUGE technical challenge and recognition % for suggesting shelf life is going to be low. 

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most efficient ones and this is what CogZum offers.  You can learn more at cogzum.com and sign up for early access - we have a closed preview release coming up this month!

Photo of Kevin R Wade
Team

What a good idea. I like that it saves money and eliminates waste. It helps my wallet and helps the environment.

I can picture my wife and I entering our recently purchased food into the app when we get home with relative ease. I know this is something we would most definitely download and use.

Now if you can just make an app that gets my son to stop putting the empty milk carton back in the fridge we will be set!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Sierra! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 09/28" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Sierra, we updated the link to the Refinement Toolkit. Please use this new link instead! https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/bda1f109-0466-4f8e-9699-1359e406df56.pdf

Photo of Rachel
Team

Other potential expansions:

- a discount food trading platform? - for people to get rid of the food that are about to expire, but have no time to consume.
- spending report on the money spent on different areas? - since u already scanned their receipts, you should also know the prices of each item, if it's from a supermarket, they might also have purchased other non-food household items, maybe you can give them a financial report on their spendings? 
- recipes/discount codes - instead of only providing recipes based on food left in the pantry, maybe you can also suggest ingredients that go well with the food left in the pantry, if they order the new ingredients through your system, you can earn commission that helps maintaining the system :)

Photo of Amber Matthews
Team

Great idea, your app will need an OCR though. There are some open source ones you can use.

Photo of Sierra Semel
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Thank you for the suggestion, Amber! 

Photo of Michael Wells
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Sierra Hi Sierra, I really enjoyed reading about your idea, because I thought that it could actually become a thing and take off. The fact that about everyone and their mothers these days has a smartphone would be able to use this app. It’s a fantastic way of getting people to keep track of the items in their houses along with the expiration dates. I know in my own house we throw away a lot just because we bought it, didn’t use it and then forgot about it. With people on their phones constantly now, it would be extremely easy for a notification to pop up on their phone telling them their milk is about to expire. They would read it and say, “okay, now I have to finish this milk before tomorrow.” I also like how they can program when their notification will come up. So they could set it to a couple days before the expiration date and have plenty of time to finish that product.
The “My Pantry” idea is also very well thought out. It will change the way people shop at grocery stores. They can see a catalog of all of the items they have at their house and their expiration dates. So they can determine if they need more of a certain item, or if they need to add an item to their grocery list. Also, it’s a great way to prevent people from doubling up on items that they’ve already purchased for their home.
To be honest, I think that with the right support and the right resources you can make this app possible. It is a great idea that could use some backing to get it off the ground. I support you, and good luck to you with anything in the

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Michael,


Thank you so much for your encouragement and support! I am hopeful that others will be as enthusiastic about the idea as you are. I am currently gathering feedback and the responses I have been getting so far have been extremely positive. It seems as if this is something that others want to see developed. 

Photo of Kate Rushton
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Congratulations on being one of the forty ideas in the refinement stage. 

What are the current limits of recognition technology using the camera from a smartphone? Is it possible/easy to scan used by/best before dates on most items?

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Thank you so much, Kate! 

I am currently doing more research in this area, but I think that it is possible with good OCR. OCR has gotten much better over the years so I think that it is definitely feasible. 

Photo of Ryan
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Expire: The App that reminds you when food is about to go bad
Summary: App that allows for manual input of food expiration date and notifies user of imminent expiration.
This is a very practical idea. Many people have a smartphone which allows for the use of this app. It would keep food from spoiling without people knowing. Also, it would keep people from overstocking on food they may already have.
However, the use of this program has issues. It can be very tedious to use due to the manual input of food types and expiration dates. The same applies for the removal of expired food. Develop the app so that one may scan a receipt. The items can then be added directly into the inventory of the app with expiration dates.
In terms of a system, there is a feedback loop. The loop starts with food being put into the apps inventory. You’d then see a positive/increase in the loop as people use the app for the first time. Next there is a positive effect on the amount of food being wasted. This is assuming the app is doing its job. The final result is money saved on an individual level. That money is then put back into the system to buy new food. This creates the feedback loop for this app.
When this feedback loop starts to decrease or have a negative effect, the tediousness is setting in. The change in the satisfaction of using the app will as a result bring the rest of the loop down. Food will begin to be wasted as people neglect putting food into the app. On top of that, people will start increasing spending on food due to the change in food wastage,
The easy implementation of purchased items is vital. If this has not been considered in the development of the app, I suggest looking into it.  Best Wishes-R

Photo of Sierra Semel
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Ryan,

Thank you so much for your feedback! You made some very good points. I agree that manual input can be very tedious and may eventually result in frustration which is why I am looking into possibly scanning a person's receipt, like you mentioned.  

Photo of Joanna Spoth
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Love this idea, Sierra! I wonder if the cataloging portion could be built in to the grocery store experience (scanning of ISBNs, printing of receipts) so that users don't have to physically scan each food item they purchase.

Photo of An Old Friend
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Great point Joanna and also because food expires doesn't mean it is bad, but to know is always great. You should also use your senses to touch, smell and look at the food, for instance meat like steaks will maybe have an odor and start turning another color to show it is bad and milk will sour, etc. But this is a great idea. My idea is here that deals with food the stores said are expired or will throw away: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/giveaway-program

Photo of Sierra Semel
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Thank you, Joanna! I am currently looking into this because my major concern is that users may not want to spend a lot of time inputting the foods they purchase and their expiration dates. If a user could simply scan their receipt, it would make things a lot easier. 

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"An Old Friend," you are completely right. Just because a food has reached its expiration date, doesn't necessarily mean that it has gone bad.  I was thinking that my app could offer up suggestions as to how long a particular food typically lasts after its expiration date. 

Also, I would love to read about your idea, but the link did not work. Could you try posting it again?

Photo of Swapna Bellare
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Sieraa, I really like the proactive approach to eliminate food waste.  Here is an idea about food expiration Expiration Date based Discounting System  perhaps can help you to get more inspired. 

Photo of Sierra Semel
Team

Swapna, thank you for the link! Brett's post on Expiration Date Based Discounting System is a great idea! I think that some grocery stores have begun to implement this idea already since foods close to reaching their expiration date will often be marked down. 

I was thinking that a possible expansion of my app could be for it to notify users when their local grocery stores are marking down foods that are about to expire. This way users would not only be reducing food waste in their own homes but helping the stores reduce waste as well!