MDes students win Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas

Team photo with product

05/09/2022 12:00 am

Congratulations to MDes students Akash Mahajan, Debbie Yuen, Eleanor Mayes, Roland Saekow, and Lula Duloup for winning the Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards in the Student category with their project EIDOS. Full article.

EIDOS was the final project from the MDes class Technology Design Foundations in Fall2021 with professors Vivek Rao and Adam Hutz. EIDOS is an ambient reminder for the kitchen that helps to reduce food waste – “use what you have, buy only what you need, and minimize what you throw away.”

It helps individuals and families at home to reduce residential food waste by providing gentle ambient reminders about food that will expire or spoil soon. A companion app scans receipts to track and inform smart grocery shopping lists and recipes.

Every year in the United States, 30-40% of all food produced goes wasted, costing time, money and resources. That means that 133 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year while as many as 811 million people worldwide still go hungry every day. In addition to global food insecurity, food waste is also crucial for fighting climate change.  Energy and transportation tend to be the face of climate change, but with food’s impact it deserves more attention. Producing food requires substantial resources which are wasted if the food is not consumed. Unlike competitors, EIDOS is designed to minimize the effort required from users. When EIDOS was reviewed by industry mentors, they challenged us to lessen the number of steps involved to make the system as frictionless as possible. Competitors such as standalone apps require tedious data entry for items going into and out of the fridge.

Tangible User interface product EIDOS. Tiles with lights on fridge

The initial direction sought to help commercial and industrial users such as restaurants and grocery stores. Through interviews, we found that commercial users already have many systems in place for distributing or donating food waste. Furthermore, research found that of all the food waste that occurs in the United States, 60% occurs in residential settings.

App screens product EIDOS

Therefore, EIDOS focuses on helping individuals change their food waste habits at home by combining a tangible and digital solution. EIDOS is designed to lead to upstream changes in the way we buy food and the scales at which food is produced.

Our interviews with users revealed a desire for a system requiring minimal effort at onset with ongoing behind the scenes monitoring. EIDOS adopts gentle lights opposed to yet another phone notification system. The physical presence of EIDOS is designed to mimic the visual variety of refrigerator magnets, while others have commented that the glowing colorful patterns of EIDOS itself can be viewed as art.

EIDOS’ modular design allows it to cater to both individuals living alone and large families. EIDOS can be personalized by connecting more tiles, trying new patterns and adding fun photo frame modules complimenting any refrigerator or kitchen. All of these features help EIDOS earn a place in the kitchen as a helpful reminder.