Your smart and EnVironmentally-conscious Assistant (EVA)
One of undesirable side effect of Singapore economy and population growth is the amount of waste generated. A total of 796,000 tonnes of food and 832,200 tonnes of plastic was wasted in 2013. Food waste itself has increased almost 45% from 10 years ago. The bulk of this food waste often comes from households, which might include purchasing food in excess of actual needs resulting in spoilt food, as well as poor storage and portion planning. Food waste leads to a waste of resources used in food production and has significant negative environmental, financial and social impacts.
Before people can be motivated to change their behaviour and reduce food waste, it is necessary for them to be aware of how much is wasted, the impact of this waste and what can be done to reduce it. Awareness, like for the case of most problems, is the first step to finding a solution.
Singapore National Environmental Agency (NEA) organized Clean and Green Hackathon 2014 to seek ideas that could minimize food and plastic waste in particular to use apps and other forms of technologies to:
- help people understand their waste patterns;
- assist appropriate purchases of foodstuff;
- enable better management of food purchases (e.g. track expiry date of food); and
- ultimately, drive changes in their behaviour to reduce food waste
Our solution is to create fun app that could support and motivate people to change their behavior and reduce food waste. We prototyped EVA, a smart assistant app with voice recognition and text to speech technology capable to help users track their grocery shopping inventory. The interactive app reminds users on the food items that are nearing their expiry date, therein allowing them to consume the food items which otherwise will expire and have to be discarded. When integrated with external sensors technology, the application could proactively advise recipes and various tips to reduce food waste.
We received valuable mentorship from Joseph Tay (Sustainability Consultant at Kainosis) and Olivier Soubiele (Associate Director Interactive Innovation at SingTel). The idea was presented to a group of judges:
- Ronnie Tay, CEO, NEA (In attendance)
- Chew Ming Fai, Deputy Director, Environment Technology Office, NEA
- Kavickumar Muruganathan, Resident Engineer, Singapore Environment Council
- Eugene Tay, Director, Green Future Solutions
- Elim Chew, Social entrepreneur; Head, Hawker Centres Public Consultation Panel (2011-2012)
- Daryl Arnold, CEO, Newton Circus
We were awarded Tied 2nd Runner Up and Best Tech prize.