Whirlpool foodtrack: preventing food waste

How can whirlpool help contribute to a solution that would help individuals and families decrease the amount of food they waste?

About this project

With food waste being an enormous problem in the United States, Whirlpool tasked us with the challenge of decreasing food waste among individuals and families.

Our Solution

We focused on preventing excessive purchase of groceries in order to tackle the problem of food waste. Our solution helps the user make smarter decisions through a system of connected wearables and smart home appliances.

My role

I was actively involved in the research and sketched out scenarios based off research. I also illustrated the system design as our concept developed.


Time frame

2 weeks


Process

Exploration

In order to better frame the problem, our team engaged in exploratory sketching sessions and a mind mapping exercise. This helped us target our research towards families and their kitchens. 

Contextual research

In the initial stage, we spoke to restaurant managers and went around food courts in the IU campus to find out how food wastage is prevented or handled. However, after doing this and speaking to design managers at Whirlpool, we quickly realised that this is broad and we need to focus more on individuals / family behavior. This led our research  into people's homes and kitchens.

With an aim to explore how people store and manage food inside their kitchen, we interviewed people inside their kitchens.

  • We learnt that attributing to a busy lifestyle, people check the availability of food in storage cabinets and their refrigerator infrequently.
  • Specifically, we noticed food waste being more acute among millennials.
  • We also discovered that there is a lack of communication among family members when they go grocery shopping. 

Finding our focus

Through a combination of research and exploratory sketching, we decided to focus on preventing excessing purchase in grocery stores. Our aim was to get to the root of the problem and we hoped to achieve that by preventing excessive food purchase in the first place. We also interviewed shoppers in the local grocery mart to validate findings from our initial research in the kitchen. 

Thinking in terms of the system

As we sketched out different solutions, we wanted to take a different approach to how we presented our final concept. Instead of just showing the final design on the wearable or watch, we showed how the system as a whole would work as well taking all the dependencies, assumptions and context into account. We leveraged the tech savvy nature of millennials and used contextual data in grocery stores to better serve users without burdening them with too much information. 

We also leveraged the whirlpool smart application and their suite of connected home appliances to build our system concept. Our assumption is that in the future, smart home appliances will have a way to gauge how much food they have in store.

System design

Storyboard and final mockups

We sketched out the final storyboard first and then created visuals in Sketch.app. The final wearable and mobile app were created based on Google's material design language for Android platform.

Based on the research and system concept, we sketched out the scenario on the whiteboard.

User enters the store, gets notification from the app indicating its presence, contextual notification is shown based on indoor location, notifications stack up and sends a buzz once more than 2 notifications are collected.

User enters the store, gets notification from the app indicating its presence, contextual notification is shown based on indoor location, notifications stack up and sends a buzz once more than 2 notifications are collected.

Users can choose to use the mobile application to check at any point what the existing items are at home. For the sake of brevity and context of use, this can be viewed on the mobile phone and not the watch. The entire list of items is an expanded feature of the contextual cards provided by the watch where users can also choose to use their mobile app to track items at a store just as he could on the watch.

The key takeaway

Mobile app

Throughout this project, the context of our design shifted as we talked to more people and did research. In the initial stage we went to food courts, then to kitchens and storage spaces in homes and finally reached the grocery store setting as we digged deeper. Finally, the biggest learning was to think holistically in terms of the system rather than just thinking about the final mockups or even the scenario. The system concept had us tie our research and assumptions together.