In 2018, Canada was among the worst countries for food waste; with households, retailers, and restaurants comprising 66% of Canadian food waste. As this is a rising environmental issue, waste reduction is a goal we can all strive for. Additionally, food waste costs the average Canadian household more that $1,100 a year. With recent developments in smart home systems, such as the Google home and Amazon Alexa, we can utilize technology to cut down on food waste, save money, and reduce our environmental impact, in both personal and professional kitchens.
What it does
We developed a skill for the Google home and an integrated web application that allows users to store information about their groceries. The user is able to easily recall the storage location and expiration date of their food, keep a log of food items in their kitchen, and explore recipes that utilize these ingredients. Hopefully, by increasing the accessibility of this information, users will be empowered to reduce their food waste.
How we built it
Our system receives user input through the Google home. Commands were coded in Voiceflow, and include store, delete, and retrieve. The data given by the user is stored in a Firebase live database using a REST API. Additionally, a web-based interface, constructed using Bootstrap, presents a log of detailed information about the user's food items, such as location and expiration date. Recipes utilizing these ingredients are retrieved through interfacing with the Azure Cognitive Computing Bing web and image search REST APIs.
Challenges we ran into
Programming with Voiceflow, Firebase, and Azure was challenging as we had no prior experience. Specifically, learning the Bootstrap framework and integrating REST APIs was difficult and required significant troubleshooting. Additionally, debugging and understanding blocks in Voiceflow had a steep learning curve.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Publishing the Voiceflow Google home action was particularly satisfying because it was a significant milestone in the realization of our project. We are also proud of constructing and collaborating on the web application, considering our lack of expertise with front-end development.
What we learned
We learned the versatility of REST APIs for interfacing with different services, specifically with regards to sending data between Voiceflow and Firebase as well as leveraging Azure's capabilities. We also discovered the joy of collaborating with like-minded individuals and engaging with volunteers, hackers, and mentors.
What's next for Fridge Feed
Along with usage in households and restaurants, Fridge Feed has applications in academic research labs and can be used in conjunction with storage systems to keep track of inventory. Alternately, expanding the artificial intelligence aspect of the project to leverage user data could further assist users through predictive shopping lists and other functionalities.