This week in class, we acted out a role-play scenario using an imaginary mock-up of one of our ideas. I chose idea#3 “Expiry dates are not the end” - Know your food (refer to previous blogpost for other ideas).
Problem: People put too much stock in the expiration date on food items.
Direction: What if the expiration date was communicated differently on the food items?
Product: A food-safe sticker pack that helps user to determine if the food has gone bad or is it’s still good to consume.The pack is printed and given free of cost to the customers at the time of grocery shopping based on the items they have bought. These stickers can be used for testing safety of both raw & cooked food items.
Here’s an prototype of a sticker pack I quickly mocked-up:
Prototype in use:
User: Carla, 28 year old young professional, often travels for work, cooks 3-4 times a week.
- Carla got back from a business trip last night, and is looking for ingredients in the fridge to make smoothie for breakfast.
- Takes out the fruits and milk.
- She is in doubt if the milk is safe to consume since she bought it a few weeks back,the fruits seemed fine though.
- When she is just about to throw off the Milk can, she is reminded of the “know your food” stickers she got from her grocery store.
- She decides to use the sticker to test.
- She takes the ‘yellow’ testing strip (assigned for milk) from the sticker pack and puts a few drops of milk on it.
- The strip color doesn’t change.
- She confirms the result with the instruction on sticker paper, which says “..if strip color changes to red; DO NOT consume the food”
- In her case, since the strip color remains yellow, she feels assured that the milk hasn’t gone bad.
- Perhaps she uses it for her smoothie instead of throwing it in trash.
Overall, the class had positive thoughts on the direction and recognized the usefulness of the system. They had some feedback & suggestion on the overall experience and execution of the idea:
1. High level of Friction: The entire activity of making the user pull-out the strip, put a few drops of milk gets a bit clumsy.
2. Color Identification: Use of color to both identify which sticker corresponds to which food item and also to find out if the food has gone bad (strip color changes to red) can be confusing to the user.
3. No trigger to use stickers on item: Lack of visual connect between the food stickers and info on product packaging or the food item itself leaves the user in somewhat confused state.
- Food safety sensing areas in Packaging: What if the packaging came with these food strips or “food safety sensing” area, so that the user doesn’t go through it.
- Exploring a different form-factor: How about using a different form factor instead of a flat sticker, may be a Food Stick, that the user can dip into the item and check?
- Food Tiles: Could something like a “Food Sensing Magnet” (like Tile) be more sustainable? User’s can buy these based on the types of food they consume.
- Train human senses: What if there was something that would help users train their sense of smell to determine if the food has gone bad instead of replacing it?
For this ideation, I mainly explored ideas that aren’t necessarily tech-driven and are cost-sensitive. In the further explorations, I intend to focus on this feedback and also ideate on how to use mobile technology and sensors to improve food consumption behaviors and minimize wastage in households.