New Food Monitoring Technology Developed to Reduce Food Waste

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. spoil / spɔɪl / (v) – to no longer be fresh; to decay

    Keep your food in the refrigerator so that it won’t spoil.

  2. shelf life / ʃɛlf laɪf / (n) – a period of time when food is still safe to consume

    The shelf life of fresh vegetables is much shorter than that of cereals.

  3. overview / ˈoʊvɚˌvjuː / (n) – a summary that explains or describes something

    The company’s website contains an overview of various products.

  4. eliminate / ɪˈlɪməˌneɪt / (v) – to remove

    The digital document eliminates the need for a printed copy.

  5. on hand / ɑːn hænd / (idiom) – available or ready for use

    We have a lot of snacks on hand in case you’re hungry.


Read the text below.

A new line of smart food containers called Ovie Smarterware helps minimize food waste by letting users know when their food will spoil.

Developed by Chicago-based tech startup Ovie, the Smarterware line is composed of containers, clips, and connectors that stick to any type of packaging. In addition, the set uses Bluetooth-connected buttons called Smart Tags, which can be attached to the containers inside refrigerators.

The Smart Tags are connected to an application on the user’s phone or to a smart speaker. Once the user identifies the container’s contents, the Ovie app’s database determines the ideal shelf life of the food products. A Smart Tag has a ring that lights up to show if the item is still fresh enough for consumption. A green light means that the item is still safe to consume, while a yellow light warns that the item should be eaten soon. On the other hand, a red light indicates that the item should be thrown out.

Additionally, the Ovie app gives an overview of the items that the user is tracking, eliminating the tendency to buy ingredients that are already on hand.

Ovie Smarterware aims to solve the heightening food waste problem. In the United States alone, the yearly food waste amounts to around 76 billion pounds.

Besides Ovie Smarterware, another innovation hopes to reduce food waste. An online platform called Chowberry uses a barcode-scanning system in Nigerian supermarkets, allowing retailers to notify prospective customers when products on sale are about to expire. This system makes it easier for the retailers to sell soon-to-expire products before they go to waste.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Who do you think will benefit the most from using Ovie Smarterware? Explain.
• What are some additional features that can improve Ovie Smarterware (e.g. voice-activated feature)? Discuss your ideas.

Discussion B

• Why is it important to create devices that help reduce food waste?
• What other technologies do you think can help reduce food waste (e.g. technology that can lengthen the shelf life of products)?