Weaving through the aisles of the grocery store, you ask yourself: Are we out of milk? What about eggs? Orange juice?
In the future, your fridge might be able to answer those questions for you, thanks to technology developed by University of Louisville students that uses artificial intelligence software to identify what foods you have and what’s missing.
The project won second place in FirstBuild’s 2017 MegaHackathon, held at the GE Appliances-backed makerspace and microfactory on UofL’s Belknap campus. Hundreds of hackers spent September 9-10 trying to “Hack the Home,” with futuristic tech like smart spice cabinets and automated pet-feeders.
The fridge team — all sophomores at UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering — also considered building a QR-code oven or a wine cooler for your refrigerator. But after those ideas didn’t pan out, they went back to the drawing board and came up with the ‘A.I. Fridge.’
“The big challenge of the Hackathon was finding something that truly made sense,” said Nico Ferreyra, a member of the team. “In other words, something that the average consumer could use and would want to buy. So, we had to think on a broad scale and come up with certain inefficiencies in the consumer’s lifestyle and solve those inefficiencies.”
For example, the inefficiency in trying to remember what groceries you need at the store. After scanning what’s inside, the A.I. fridge creates a shopping list based on what you normally buy and syncs with your calendar to make the whole grocery shopping experience more automated and streamlined.
Ferreyra’s team received $2,000 for their overall second place win. They also won $750 for the winning the GE IDO Best Digital Experience for a Physical Product award, and received the PCI LTD Co. Smart Home Award.
Larry Portaro, FirstBuild’s director, said the third annual competition allowed FirstBuild to showcase its “model of manufacturing to bring out the best and brightest ideas for the next smart appliance.”
“The prototypes generated from each team truly illustrate the idea behind our collaborative community and how ideas can come from anywhere and anyone,” he said.
Another UofL team competing at this year’s MegaHackathon made an umbrella stand that tells you the weather. In past FirstBuild contests, UofL teams have designed futuristic hotel rooms and created smart cooktops that give you step-by-step recipe instructions.
Aside from just the prizes, Ferreyra said participating in his first hackathon gave him the chance to get some hands-on experience and apply what he learned in class.
“I do think students benefit from these events,” he said. “Events like these immerse engineering students into these challenges and bring the true engineer out.”