Hack It: In-refrigerator egg monitoring

hack-it-egg-sensor

Here’s a concept piece that monitors the eggs in your refrigerator. It’s still in development and we don’t think the general public is ready for digital egg monitoring quite yet. But we love the concept and want to hear from you to see if you could develop your own version.

What we know about the device is that — despite the image which makes smart phone proximity seem important — it connects to the Internet from inside your fridge. It will tell you how many eggs you have left, and even tracks the date at which each entered your refrigerator.

So, what’s inside this thing and who can build their own the fastest? We’ll cover some specs and speculate a bit to get you started: There’s a light sensor to detect when the door opens and an LED below each egg to illuminate the oldest. We think the light sensor triggers a microcontroller that uses each of the egg LEDs as a light sensor as well. If the threshold is too low then there is indeed an egg in that cup. We also like the fact that the tray has fourteen slots; as long as you don’t buy eggs until you have just two left you’ll always have room.

If you build one we want to know. We’re thinking 3D printed cups, low-power microcontroller, but we’re kind of stumped on the cheapest WiFi solution. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

[via Reddit via NY Daily News via Mind of Geek]

78 thoughts on “Hack It: In-refrigerator egg monitoring

    1. You might think this, but you would be completely wrong. Natural eggs contain antibacterial enzymes in their shell which keep them fresh for several weeks at room temperature.

      1. I believe this is called the bloom. But the point stands, if it told you which location has had an egg in the longest, you would know which one to use first. Saves you having to remember “I put Thursdays over here…” etc..

        1. [here](url=http://www.thekitchn.com/is-refrigerating-eggs-necessary-176617). Think of it: a refrigerator is not only cold but also dry as cold air doesn’t hold water very well. Eggs are porous. Water evaporates from the relatively warm egg, to condense on the coolest part of the fridge. Hence eggs lose their liquid more quickly in a fridge then they do outside of it.

    2. I keep chickens. This is brilliant, but not for the fridge. I may make something that shows me the oldest egg (of course a skelter would do the same thing, but where’s the hack in that?)

      Sure they keep for a few weeks, but i still get bad ones from time to time and sometimes i get more eggs than i can reliably track with my ‘FIFO’ placing method.

  1. We’re thinking 3D printed cups
    Or an egg carton :)

    low-power microcontroller
    Maybe an arduino?

    but we’re kind of stumped on the cheapest WiFi solution.
    Why wifi when you can do 433mhz or 2.4 GHZ? If it needs to be accessible then 433/2.4 -> Base station (Computer with another arduino?) -> Internets. Definatly cheaper then wifi

          1. Well, at least you’re getting wifi in there! Or do you have a LAN cable smashed in the door?

      1. Apparently you can get reasonable “signal” at a relatively high frequency through a freezer, I would imagine a fridge is about the same.

  2. i have a hard time keeping eggs in the fridge. people are always eating them. every time i need an egg for some kinda baking project or whatever they are gone. and i buy 2 18 packs a month. thing is i dont like eggs beyond their ability to hold baked goods together. so yea this isnt a very good idea for me. id get some chickens but they would get eaten too.

    1. Yes Spark Core is coming and because it is OSHW I expect to see it at many resellers and that will make it cheap.

  3. There is no indication that it uses the LED as sensor trick as it says each egg has its own sensor and LED. If you DIY it seems like a good opportunity to try vacuum forming. The light sensor is important so that it can detect when the door is open and use that opportunity to connect to WiFi since otherwise it is in a closed metal box.

      1. Problem is you may not be the one opening the fridge or using the eggs but the egg status would always be up to date on your app in case you’re at the store. It’s a bit silly, but not totally worthless.

    1. That has to be some new revolutionary technology there.

      I have so far never seen a device that can find a WiFi network, connect to it and send any useful data in the time it takes to open a fridge, grab butter, cheese, milk and three eggs, then close it again. Maybe it should contain a speech module that asks you to wait before closing the door so it can find the network and connect to it.

      1. I saw data on the CC3000 that said wakeup + reconnect in under 1 second. So I don’t know how fast you are in the fridge but …

  4. the more and more devices you can get for the iphone then the more and more it is worth the $500+ price tag (keep the water cooler effect)

  5. Useless! Worthless! It also needs to tell me how many cans of soda, how much cheese, if I need to buy hot dogs, butter, bread, apples… And show me on my cell phone when I’m at the grocery store ;)

  6. How would this possibly be powered? Do you have to take it out to charge it? Or use expensive disposable batteries?

    1. The only cell that’d be worth anything in this situation would be lithiums. Alkaline, NiCd, and NiMH all suck hard in cold(38F) weather.

  7. i usually put my eggs in a cup of water if i want to see if they are still good (bad eggs float.) i don’t know what happens if you keep your eggs in water all the time (shells being made of calcium i imagine they would dissolve)
    but barring that, if i wanted to determine if an egg was bad and wanted to be high tech about it…i’d probably use sound waves to determine the density of the egg. bad eggs have gas in them which is why they float, they are less dense (knocking on an egg works too but it’s harder to notice the difference..but a machine could tell easily by sound) so an ultrasonic pulse every so often could tell you which ones have gone bad.

  8. I would invent a self lobotomizing device before I wasted my time on making anything so useless.

    Write the buy date on the carton with a sharpie if you’re worried (toss after 3 weeks).

    When in doubt – toss them, they’re eggs, buy more fresh ones, they’re cheap.

    Geeesh, in the process of selling Hackaday did they already fire the editor???

  9. In all likelihood this will never see the light of day (or the refrigerator light for that matter). Quirky often comes up with weird ideas, promotes them as if they actually exist and then they die. WiFi can’t work from inside the fridge, power is an issue, it’s going to be horribly expensive as they’ve described it, etc. Way too many issues to list.

    I’m actually surprised that Hackaday fell for this. Since I’ve been a subscriber I’ve seen mostly quality hacks that actually work and marketing hype with really pretty 3D renders.

    1. Hmm – some text got lost when it posted. The last part should have said “I’m actually surprised that Hackaday fell for this. Since I’ve been a subscriber I’ve seen mostly quality hacks that actually work and not marketing hype with really pretty 3D renders.”

    2. Actually… You couldn’t be further from accurate.

      Wifi issue: After testing on approximately 15 different fridges, we have no issues communicating from inside.

      Power Issue: Obviously efficiency of batteries inside the fridge is a thing but the normal operating range on the low side of alkaline is 32F a few degrees below optimal fridge temp. Now there was increased depletion but not so much we couldn’t account for and still create a product that made sense.

      Quirky: We don’t come up with any ideas. The public does. We get excited about great ideas .

      Not being made: This product is currently in tooling and we have several working prototypes.

      Hit me up if you’d like any more info. Or if you’re in ny stop by.

    3. I just put my ipod in the fridge and was able to maintain an SSH connection to it. Signal was low and router is around 25ft away but it works. Battery is not that big of an issue since it only needs to send a wifi update when an egg is removed/added. It should be possible to produce for <$20 in a reasonable quantity. I won't be buying one, but it is still interesting.

  10. Eggs keep a long time if your fridge is decently cold, and most of the eggs I buy have a Sell-by date already printed on the end of the carton. My inventory system is that I’ve got room for two dozen eggs, so that’s one full carton and one that might be full or partially empty, and sometimes I can cram a third carton in that shelf if I know I’ll be using a bunch of eggs soon or they were on sale or something.

    If you’re hacking something for fun, have fun with it, but it seems a lot more trouble to use than not having it, since you’ve got to transfer all the eggs into it and change batteries and such.

    1. one that might be full or partially empty

      Schroedinger’s eggs. The carton is both full and partially empty until the observer opens it and the stateless egg energy collapses into one solid state or the other.

      1. A Schroedinger egg is also both fresh and bad until the observer cracks it :D Hacking is fun it doesn’t have to be a commercial product. Anyway how many hacks end up unused in the long term and left to be recycled into a new project?

  11. I think it would be a good idea for restaurant owners where the “freshness” and the “quantity” matters more. In a normal household I think most people can tolerate being out of egg. Additionally, it seems like a whole lot of work for something trivial.

    1. I’d imagine most decent restaurants have a high enough egg turnover rate that freshness rarely factors into it more than implementing an egg rotation scheme in the store room.

  12. Does anyone see this as a serious waste of technology and plastic? I mean egg monitoring? Really? GE & Quirky – a tech giant and innovative startup create yet another useless waste of plastic. I love to see people hacking together interesting things like this but fact is two companies created this as a demonstration of innovative collaboration.

    I think GE should stick to trains, aircraft engines, power turbines, wind turbines, and MRI machines and Quirky should stick to crap products you don’t need.

  13. Ag extension service says not to handle eggs excessively, so even those cavities they make in fridges are not wanted. Eggs on door no, slam. I don’t eat eggs but have to have the silly cavities wasting space in the fridge.

    1. I agree totally, eggs come in the perfect storage device which has a use by date printed on it, float test to make sure.

      1. Unused condiment packets, now there is something I need date-monitored. I toss them in the fridge thinking I’ll take them camping. Usually forget. When I do remember, I think, gads, how long have these things been in there! Could have been years maybe. So I toss them out & start the same process again.

  14. Putting eggs in the fridge ? Ah yes, in some countries the eggs are washed and it makes the natural bacterial barrier less efficient and then the fridge is mandatory.

  15. If you use very thin wires under the door barrier, you can mount a detecting device in the fridge that is powered by something off mains outside the fridge. The wires can also be used to send signals from the detecting device to a Wifi unit or server outside the fridge. Insulation of the fridge shouldn’t be affected much by thin wires.

  16. Hey there!
    Stoked this made it to HackADay my fave site.

    I work for Quirky and made the first 2 working prototypes of this tray. If anyone has any questions hit me up!!

    Josh@quirky.com

  17. I simply use a pencil to write the “sell by” date on one of the eggs, making sure to use it last. If you are eating so many eggs you can’t keep track, you might be better off building a DIY cholesterol monitor ;-)

  18. How about creating a scavenging type wire the connects to the fridge door light. Every time you open the door a small amount of current goes into the device charging it. May not be enough, but you could also use the current to actually power the device as well.

    Whats interesting is that keeping eggs in the fridge seems to be a North America only type thing.

    /\ – Bad Cholesterol is a myth. Heh

    1. Euro fridges often enough come with egg-trays in the door though, although I think many people just put the egg-carton in the fridge if they aren’t using the eggs in short order.

  19. In areas where cash is still used, personal feeding habits are one of the few things that are hard to find out and store in government databases. This has to change, so get your fridge on the internet NOW! Like that, when someone buys a plane ticket, we can automatically calculate a risk factor from the number of halal products in her fridge over the last months. Of course, to keep with privacy concerns, the contents of your eggs will not be stored, just the metadata such as number, size, weight, date and supplier. The best thing about our THEMILKSOFF project: it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny! If we sell the data to health insurances, it may well run at a profit.
    We would like to thank our partners at Hackaday who are working tirelessly to hammer home for the fridge what Apple, Google & Co.’s advertising has fixated in our heads about those tracking devices with a camera and a microphone in our pockets already: it’s not a bug, it’s a feature! (and you’re gonna pay for it yourself)

  20. Should cross this with one of the sentry turret designs.
    Store the bad eggs, then launch them at any late-night foragers.
    (Or at whoever puts the milk jug back with only “that much” left in it.
    “Not enough to drink, I’d better put that back.”
    – revenge of the Icebox Man)

    Could determine bad eggs by loss of weight, change color,
    gas sensor, etc.

    1. idk where in the UK you are but I (also in the UK) and most peoples fridges I’ve ever seen (in the UK) store their eggs there too. Put another way, I don’t see eggs stored in the fridge odd or privileged. It maybe unnecessary but then why stop at eggs when we refrigerate so much that doesn’t ‘require’ it. (that’s not to say it won’t benefit being refrigerated)

      1. Once they’ve been refrigerated (by the supermarket, for instance), they need to kept in a fridge. Those of us who grow our own know they keep just fine out of the fridge. (UK here)

  21. I want one! Some times we eat eggs, sometimes we don’t. I never know if the eggs are ok or not. This would let me know for sure.. love it!!! Let me know where I can get one for me and for gifts

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