Chicago-based tech startup Ovie has launched Smarterware, a line of food-storage products that alert users when the contents of their fridge are about to spoil.
The products are distinguished by their Smart Tags – glowing discs that signal if an expiry date is approaching through easily recognisable colour coding.
Green indicates a recently tagged food, yellow a food that should be eaten as a priority, and red a food that is likely no longer safe to eat.
Ovie‘s product line includes Tupperware-style containers, clips and “universal connectors” that can stick to any existing packaging. Each product has a slot for a Smart Tag.
While food-storage containers may appear to be too insignificant to warrant Internet of Things functionality, Ovie believes they represents an opportunity for consumers to reduce their food waste, thereby saving money and helping the environment.
The company points to statistics from the National Resources Defense Council, which show Americans waste about 40 per cent of their food, costing the average family approximately $2000 (£1450) a year.
“People don’t want to waste all of this food — it just happens,” said Ovie CEO and co-founder Ty Thompson. “We’re busy, we invest time and resources to make a great meal, and then we end up throwing away a large amount of food simply because we forget about it.”
“We wanted to help solve this problem by creating a product that would be simple to use and bring a more mindful approach to food storage.”
With ease of use in mind, the team designed Smarterware to work with the voice recognition of Amazon Alexa. This means a user only needs to speak the name of the food contained within Smarterware for Ovie to match it to relevant expiry information in its database.
Optional additional features come via a companion app, which sends notifications to a user’s phone when food is near spoiling, provides an overview of tagged items in their fridge and includes a recipe search with results filtered based on the ingredients they already have.
Ovie is the latest start-up to transform an analogue household product into an internet-connected device. Some existing examples include a smart fragrance diffuser, connected kettle and a toothbrush that tracks your oral hygiene habits.
Smarterware’s functionality is similar that of some existing smart fridges on the market, but with a more accessible price point of $60 (£44.90) for a starter set.
Smarterware launched last week on Kickstarter and is already halfway to its funding goal of $40,000 (£29,800). It is the first product from Ovie, which was founded in 2014.
The company exhibited a prototype earlier this year at the CES electronics fair, and is now about to begin pre-production. It hopes to begin shipping Smarterware in early 2019, and plans to integrate the product with other smart speakers in addition to Alexa in the future.