The Web as a Learning Environment - Group 2, Clean Xiang

1. Explanation (problem background introduction)

In our busy daily life, housework has been an increasing hassle for young generations, especially housekeeping in our refrigerator. The food (fruit, meat, vegetables, etc) stored in the refrigerator can be easily forgotten at times and goes bad quickly, leading to food wastage. Besides, food wastage has been a common phenomenon around the world. Official data shows that in 2018, there has been 1.3 billion tons of food waste worldwide, which accounts for nearly one-third of total food production. Considering the demand on convenience in housekeeping and the food saving, developing some technology to help people to manage their refrigerator is necessary and prospective. 

So the problem is, people want their refrigerator to sensor the information of food and alert them if the food  go bad.


2. Guidelines for Students

  1.  The teacher will divide everyone into groups of 3-4 students each.

  2. Each group shall do some basic research about the problem and  brainstorm possible solutions, finally, choose the most desirable one.

  3. After deciding on the chosen idea, the group shall find the necessary materials and make a prototype,test and instructions are desirable.

  4. Finally, the group shall present the product and persuade others to buy it or invest it.


3. Expectations

Processing mindset : how to think as an engineer and solve a problem systematically 

Information searching: find relevant information from different sources 

Technology  skills :how to make a prototype and explain how it works,  including the basic concept and knowledge about engineering. 

Teamwork skills: communicate with different people and collaborate together 

Roadshow and pitch: how to show your product vividly and persuade others to buy your products or find investment for it. 


4. Presentation

1) Different solutions (25 points)

Search via Internet(google/baidu/bing), filter out outdated information, come up with your own solutions. Find relevant updated information and research results from databases offered by your institution.

Try to view the problem from different perspectives. If you were a user, which kind of solution would you buy, how much money would you spend on such product? If you were a product developer, would you like it to be very complicated and use many cutting-edge technologies, so that your potential competitors could not steal your idea?

Recommend to take every key factor leading to the success of your product into consideration. For instance, is it easy to use, is your solution straight forward and hitting the pain point?


2) Why you choose the solution (20 points)

  • Is it innovative enough? 

  • Does it enable people to do things they could not have before?

  • Is it a feasible solution?


3)    Prototype (20 points)

What are the factors, demands, functions, or considerations it must have? How does it work? Will it be user-friendly for the customers? 


4)  Present and Persuasion (25 points)

Understand the target audience and how this product will meet their demands. Present the idea’s functionality and affordability, whether it is suitable and attractive enough for the audience. Describe the profit analysis, how the sales will generate revenue. Finally, how to persuade target audience and others to buy it.


5) Bonus (Up to 20 points)

Market research: whether the group has done market research and do cost control 

Appearance: whether the product is user-friendly and attractive 

Video: whether the video can describe the product clearly and interesting enough.


5. Examples

Here is an example of ours.


We got a bar code scanner for packaged food. And a camera for homemade food and food without wrappers. There is an input button to trigger the input event, which write records to the inner database. And an output button to switch mode, to delete records. There are two buttons for different mode, system default mode or manual mode, which enables the flexibility to change the expire date of certain food.

> One-click identification for Wi-Fi

> Scanning when food in and out

> Automatic alerting by email

2> Integrated Design

3> Workflow

4> sensors

6. References

Casalinuovo, I., Di Pierro, D., Coletta, M. and Di Francesco, P., 2006. Application of electronic noses for disease diagnosis and food spoilage detection. Sensors6(11), pp.1428-1439.

Ellis, D.I., Broadhurst, D., Kell, D.B., Rowland, J.J. and Goodacre, R., 2002. Rapid and quantitative detection of the microbial spoilage of meat by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and machine learning. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.68(6), pp.2822-2828.


Provide an answer by clicking on "Map" and then on "Add an Answer".

Results, Analysis and Discussion

1.  Zhang Bokai (14.08.2019 pm 02.44.29)

This design is very useful and definitely can help us solve the problems of wasteful food. However, some food and fruits do not have the exact expiration date so you can think about whether this scanner can also be equipped with other functions to monitor this part. Therefore, if your team could complete this part, I think it must be a very competitive product in the market.

2.  Fang Wenyu (14.08.2019 pm 08.46.39)
Peer assessment

I really appreciate your project idea, as food waste is a critical and widespread problem across the world. It will be of great value. 

I think the possible solution you have proposed could enable every household to get engaged in the global task to help reduce food waste and food loss in an easily implemented way. In my perspective, scanning bar code or QR code is among the simplest ways to recognize food and it could minimize the error when tracking expiration dates. As bar code scanner is quite common nowadays, your refrigerator reminder will be affordable for many people when it really comes into the market.

Based on your prototype, I have some suggestions that might help you to improve the device.

  1. Standing on the perspective of an instructor of PBL, I would recommend you to add what kinds of specific engineering knowledge you expect students to achieve by conducting this project, in order to make student more aware of the goal of this project. 
  2. For those food without bar codes such as fresh fruits and vegetables, your solution to track their expiration dates is to have a picture of them. However, food sometimes goes bad from the deep inside, which cannot be recognized by a camera that only takes photos of its appearance. Thus, utilizing a camera to detect food quality may be inaccurate for certain kinds of food. 
  3. I think your group could improve the device a little bit to make it more efficient. For now, users have to scan every piece of food when they want to put them into the refrigerator. It would be time-wasting.
  4. Nowadays, there are several kinds of food expiration tracker apps for both shop-bought and home-made items on the market now, which allow you to track food ubiquitously from your mobile phone. Some of the apps provide a list of different categories of food that enable users to quickly add to the reminder. And the app could notify you via pushing notification or sending alerts when the expiration dates come. It is more automatic and time-saving compared with sending emails. When expiration dates can be directly connected to the calendar of your smartphone, you won’t have to frequently check your mailbox to know which food need to be consumed sooner.
3.  Drobchenko Tania (15.08.2019 am 03.56.19)
food tracker review

Hello, first i want to refer to the problem which is very troublesome indeed, food waste is a waste of energy, resourses and should be avoided.

I searched the web for better broplem description and possible solutions, and it is a very studied issue.There are smart fridges as you noted, apps that track your grocery shopping and know the expiery date of products from the information provided by the store, and apps that can scan the barcode at your home by yourself, and as you open a product you scan - and there you have recorded the opening date which allows to track more accurately about acually going bad food better that just the expiry date.

I didnt understand whether your device also tracks the fruit and vegetables life (which usually dont have barcode).

In your video - the part explaining about the functions of your device has a very short screen time for each sentence and some of the words has white font color on white backround which was a problem for me to read and understand.

Over all i think your solution is easy to use and very helpfull but slightly similar to aps with same idea of scanning food products, so maybe you should emphasize what makes your solution innovative and special
Thank you, Tania 

4.  Chen Yuxuan (18.08.2019 am 09.59.52)
Project review

I think this project is quite innovative because wasting food is a worldwide issue and there’s no worldwide way to solve it. If you can make this project feasible, I believe it would be a huge success because people do want to protect the environment and save more money. 

However, I think it is still a challenge to make things work since there’re lots of kinds of fruit. For example, raw and ripe, fruit and meat, drink and bread. So you might need to find out the right sensors or ways to detect the condition of foods in refrigerator. 

Hope you can find the best way to make this world greener :)

History of edits
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-19 07:07:57
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-19 07:05:04
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-19 06:34:42
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-14 11:01:52
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-14 10:48:42
Edited BY: TIAN ZHANG Edit Date: 2019-08-14 10:48:08