11
August
2021
|
01:00
Asia/Singapore

An App Way to Reduce Food Wastage

The Freshify app aims to help users reduce food wastage through meal planning and keeping tabs on food expiration dates.

When Year 2 Mechanical Engineering student Muhammad Zulhusni Jumat found himself throwing away expired food at home every other week, he decided a rethink was in order. The solution? Freshify – a combination of a mobile app, object recognition device and camera, which aims to reduce food wastage through meal planning and keeping tabs on food expiration dates.

“We realised that the food in our fridges were either often expired, or not well-stored to maintain optimal freshness. Food-related responsibilities also often fall on one person in the family, making it a tedious process to track and plan while cooking for the household,” said Zulhusni, who brainstormed the idea with his teammate Desiree Ong from Nanyang Technological University. “With Freshify, we aim to simplify the entire tracking and planning process – from purchase to consumption – so that everyday users find it easy to reduce food waste at home.”

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From left: The Freshify mobile app, object recognition device and camera.

Smart Meal Planning

Freshify employs a two-pronged approach – monitor the freshness of food purchases and provide users with meal planning options to maximise food consumption. Users scan their groceries with the object recognition device attached to the fridge, which then uploads data about the item (its food type, brand and expiry date) onto a cloud-based server accessible through the Freshify app. Meanwhile, a camera mounted inside the fridge captures live images of the fridge’s inventory for real-time monitoring.

On the app, up to eight users can access the same channel at any one time to plan meals, create grocery shopping lists, and try out recommended zero-waste recipes based on the ingredients in their fridge and their dietary preferences. There is also an element of gamification to ramp up engagement – you can earn points by completing tasks and meeting goals, and these points can be exchanged for food rewards and vouchers.

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SIT Year 2 Mechanical Engineering student Muhammad Zulhusni Jumat and his teammate Desiree Ong.

IKEA Southeast Asia’s Young Designer Award

Freshify recently earned the team a spot in the Top 15 finalists in the IKEA Southeast Asia’s Young Designer Award. The competition was launched in 2014 for students in tertiary institutions, and it challenges them to inspire change behaviour to help address issues regarding climate change and its impact. This year’s edition saw more than 100 entries by participants from Singapore and Thailand. For aspiring engineer Zulhusni, the competition was a chance to do his part in creating a more sustainable future.

However, the process was not without its challenges. In order to design a product that is both functional and aesthetically marketable, Zulhusni worked to reduce redundant functions and features. He also borrowed knowledge from the Design and Manufacture module in his Mechanical Engineering course to design a product from scratch.

Freshify prototype

3D printing of the low-fidelity prototype.

The team is currently working on refining Freshify before rolling it out for market testing. They have also welcomed a new team member on board – SIT Year 2 Mechanical Engineering student, Shaun Yong, who has a background in photography and a keen eye for product design. “Through Freshify, we also hope to connect more local farms to the masses to support local produce,” said Zulhusni.