Smart fridges: a novel concept that in reality often proves to be more trouble than it's worth. Smart fridges are definitely a viable upgrade to a stock fridge, but have been struggling to attract enough market share to allow them to grow significantly. Rather than go out and make a smart fridge, what if we could upgrade a normal fridge to allow for the feature set of a smart fridge? The FridgeKit is here to fill that gap!
What it does
The FridgeKit prototype has a few main features: A camera to take pictures of food items to add them to an inventory of food items present CO2 and flammable gas sensors to increase kitchen safety when the user isn’t at home, that can send alert texts A website to access/modify a user's fridge inventory and track the user's daily calorie consumption
How we built it
The FridgeKit IoT device is based on a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and uses gas sensors from Flying-Fish, the RasPi Cam and a push button. The sensors connect to the Pi are able to send an alert text through the use of Twilio. The database utilizes Google Cloud Firebase to store user information, including contact info, and serves as the backend for the entire app. Clarifai’s food model is used to identify the different types of food. The website is developed using bootstrap.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest issues we faced were connecting the Pi to Firebase, as an interface wasn’t easily available for use with python; and retrieving information - once those were resolved, development continued smoothly. On a hardware side, it was difficult to keep the FridgeKit IoT device nicely contained due to the lack of material. Production of specialized parts would make it much easier to build a container.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The overall product was successful in accomplishing it's basic goals - connecting a regular fridge to the internet, making it a “smart” fridge! We were especially happy to be able to include some of the other features such as the Twilio emergency texts. We all worked well together and had a good time as well, making the weekend well worth it!
What we learned
We all learned how to integrate Firebase into projects. A lot of skills were shared between us so we are all more versatile developers; web development and iot skills specifically were crossed between us.
What's next for FridgeKit
There are plenty of upcoming features coming to FridgeKit! These include a touchscreen for allowing inventory reading & editing on the device and a standardized casing.
Further down the line, FridgeKit could be adopted by a larger company in the smart fridge market such as LG or GE in order for them to have a cheaper alternative to a new smart fridge, eventually pushing consumers to buy newer fridges.