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Eatcyclopedia: A Phone App to Help Connect and Inform

UPDATED: Although interactive apps are useful, another possibility for an app is a prebuilt app that can be used offline like an encyclopedia that focuses on food production and consumption. Accessing the information doesn’t have to take place at a store or market, but anywhere (even if you don’t have WiFi or 3G). However, there will be a WiFi component enabled (such as QR code look up feature, ability to push content up to the database, etc.). For the sake of this concept I’m going to refer to it as the Queensland Eatcyclopedia App. I’ve made some mock-ups that would best describe the general features of such an app.

Photo of Sina Mossayeb
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[UPDATE: Thanks to all those w/ feedback; especially  Ewan McEoinMeena Kadri, Arjan Tupan,and   Kirk Soderstrom > their feedback has been incorporated in updated slides above. Additional feedback for refinement always welcome.]

Before going any further it is important to note that (according to Nielson, 2010):

- 43% of online Australians now own a smartphone
- 26% participated in mobile social networking in the past year
- 66 % of mobile social networkers are under 35 years of age

Static Application:
Create a smart phone app that is like an encyclopedia of food production. Here is the kicker: It is well designed and simple, full of meaningful and telling info. This is inspired in part by the IDEO Method Cards ( Any food source (vegetable, fruit, meats, etc.) is searchable. The mock-ups should be self-explanatory, if not poor design on my part (the more intuitive the more likely it will be used).


1. SLIDE 2: Multi Search Function: You can search the database (no Internet connection required), you can search by QR tag (requires Internet), or by a food code label number (requires Internet). You can update database on this page, as well as add/suggest new additions that do not appear.
2. SLIDE 3: A-Z Listing of all foods (with demarcation of vegetable, fruit, meat, or herb)
3. SLIDE 4: Introduction: General Facts (including variations of the food)
4. SLIDE 5: Nutritional Facts
5. SLIDE 6: How it is processed from start to finish (from seed planting to harvesting to packaging and delivery)
6. SLIDE 7: Meal ideas for the particular food source (optional) – this makes the app useful as a dietary tool
7. SLIDE 8 and 9: Where the food can be found in a given region (in our case, Queensland). There is an "ADD" button so people can add pins and profile pages of farmers. The drop pins link to a profile page and/or video of the farm (see SLIDE 9). 

All graphics and product design is solely meant for conceptualizing for Open IDEO’s challenge.

Pictures used in App Mock-Up:
Planting Carrots:
Farm with Carrot Field

Picking Carrots
Picking Carrots 2

Farmer in "Meet the Farmer" page: Courtesy of Stock.Xchange

Some of the icons are taken or modified from

Concept builds

Some additional features that may be added (based on what the team of smart do-gooders have suggested, see comments for attribution): 1. DATA POPULATION: The data will be populated from three primary sources: (a) general research to populate various types (i.e. list of foods, nutritional facts [precooked and cooked], foods in danger/rarity, foods by season, etc.); (b) farmers and producers can upload information to the database via mobile phone or internet; (c) given the platform will be open for submission, the general community, particularly organizations, university students/instructors, other students (for projects), and the general population (there would need to be review by product manager to maintain some threshold of quality). 2.INTERACTIVE FEATURE: Beyond the recipe feature, there can also be an interactive feature, or as mentioned an "educational" component, like a fun trivia game, or a scavenger hunt, other gaming component. Also, people could submit recipes themselves (see #1) or place new locations on the map (where) section. 3. INCENTIVE FOR USE: I think the app should be free. It should perhaps have advertisements (annoying) or build in discount features (like foursquare or groupon) where there you get discounts for foods near your location (using GPS feature of smartphones. 4. OTHER MODALITIES: As mentioned previously a web version of the app could easily share the database, and thus it would be available online, at home, demo stations in grocery stores (think Barnes and Noble book search stands), schools, libraries, and other places. ADDITIONALLY, you could have an annual or periodic printed version of the book, or perhaps mini-print products (like booklets, etc.). 5. PASSIVELY ACTIVE FEATURE: You could have an option wherein if you get close to a farmers market, or a store with local foods, you get a buzz letting you know. Alternatively, you can include a "my shopping list" feature, where each app saves your preferences for items, and suggests complementary local foods that go with it; or perhaps it has a pop up giving you some info about a food you buy more than 3 times, etc.

What actions would need to be taken to turn this idea into a reality?

You would need three essential things to get a beta working: 1. App Development (this is the tech side, using the mock ups as a guide for backend development. 2. Some basic information to populate data (draw this from existing data bases, online encyclopedias, and other accessible information). Steps 1 and 2 would bring the actual application into reality ---- The next step would bring the product into usability 3. User base, advertise the app in partnership with government, stores, farmers, schools, through various marketing to get people to use it. There needs to be a partnership of initial stakeholder to support the initiative.

Who might make a good partner for this project?

This product can actually be very participatory in nature. While it is indeed narrow in it's target audience (people who have smartphones or internet)--still a good chunk of urban dwellers--many are involved: 1. Farmers (stories about those who grow the food; also they can identify locations and data) 2. End-users can submit recipes, items that do not appear, and locations of farms, etc. 3. The Market (both farmers market and grocery stores): they can be be proponents of this by offering space for advertisement, sponsoring it, etc.; in turn perhaps having a "sponsors" status and encouraging buying produce and other items 4. Government can help sponsor the initial build of it, promote it in other campaigns, and do self-promoting through the site, creating a clear vision and point of view on local food production, etc. The published book can also be a product of the government to various sites, etc. They can also facilitate NGO and private sector sponsorship of it. 5. Schools: Various levels of schools from university to junior high can participate in producing content for the database, to help start a food conscious movement; making the next generation of consumers and producers leaders in the intimate connection between the two 6. Private sector: sponsors 7. Celebrity endorsements and guest recipe submitters (also favorite foods, etc.) (thanks Louise) 8 Sina Mossayeb: cheerleader

What suggestions would you have for potential sources of funding for the development of this project?

Corporate sponsors Government grant (see money for development) Farmers Union Eatcyclopedia: The Book Donations (given it is a free app)

Virtual team

Arjan Tupan Kirk Soderstrom Sarah Fatallah Louise Wilson Krassimira Iordanova Ewan McEoin [and if possible...] Tom Hulme Meena Kadri

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How effectively do you think that this concept reconnects food consumers and producers?

It would reconnect food consumers and producers strongly - 81.8%

It would somewhat reconnect food consumers and producers  - 18.2%

It would not significantly reconnect food consumers and producers  - 0%

2. How scalable is this idea across communities and geographies?

This concept can be scaled across many communities  - 91.7%

This concept will take a fair bit of work to build and scale - 8.3%

This concept is not particularly scalable  - 0%

3. How quickly could this concept be impactful? 

This concept could happen today - 50%

This concept could happen soon with some work - 41.7%

I struggle to see this happening in a reasonable timeframe - 8.3%

4. How original is this concept?

This concept is extremely original - 58.3%

This concept has some original aspects - 41.7%

This concept already exists - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

This concept rocked my world – it’s brilliant - 83.3%

I liked this concept but preferred others - 8.3%

This concept didn’t get me overly excited - 8.3%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Congmin Liang

Right now there are a lot of brand and products have apps to sell their products. It is a convenient way that allows consumers to purchase things online through those apps. But it is the first time that I heard about the off-line shopping apps that do not require the WiFi or 3G to do the purchasing. But I know that Starbucks has its apps that allow its customers to add money into their apps account without any WiFi or 3G require. But it is only using for money adding. To have "an app is a prebuilt app that can be used offline like an encyclopedia that focuses on food production and consumption. Accessing the information doesn’t have to take place at a store or market, but anywhere (even if you don’t have WiFi or 3G). However, there will be a WiFi component enabled (such as QR code look up feature, ability to push content up to the database, etc.)." is really new to me, and I didn't familiar with. And also it cause my curiosity in this idea stage.
Another thing that this idea mentioned is about the money funding, "Corporate sponsors Government grant (see money for development) Farmers Union Eatcyclopedia: The Book Donations (given it is a free app)" is a great way to fund money to do this apps. It could also give the government a opportunity to do something for it people and make benefits. To have this kind of free apps a great idea that allow consumers to purchase products when they didn't have internet services or WiFi, which is very suitable for everyone, and it is easy to use. I think to build this apps is a great ways and really new way to shop. And I am looking forward to see this idea going, and what other people think about this idea.

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