Oscar Updates Your Grocery List From the Trash

grocerylist

[Dan] has come up with a novel solution to the age old problem of keeping your grocery list up to date. He’s added a bar code scanner and a Raspberry Pi under a kitchen cabinet. He calls the system “Oscar”, though we don’t see any grouchiness in his trash can. When [Dan] runs out of a product, he simply throws it away. Just above his garbage and recycling bin is a low cost barcode scanner. [Dan] holds the item until the scanner reads, then sends it on it’s way to recycling or the landfill. The decoded bar code is processed by a Raspberry Pi also hiding under the cabinet. The Raspberry Pi sends the data to Trello.comusing the Trello api.

If a product isn’t recognized by Trello’s database, trello dispatches a text message to [Dan’s] phone. He can then add the product information via a web interface. We think the user interface is what’s great here. Once products are in the database, the only thing that has to be done day to day is pause for a moment before throwing a package away. [Dan] has all his code up on github, and has also created a reddit thread for Oscar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_MNOOgFDg4

[via reddit.com]

Comments

  1. dx says:

    Ha, really – instead of controlling all your not used stuff, you can just automatically read barcodes of used packs. Very good idea.

    • Tony says:

      Very old idea – no-one cared for it much back then either (*).

      See also fridges that scan bar codes, microwave ovens that scan bar codes, shopping trolleys that scan bar codes, and others.

      No bar code? No matter – http://www.quirky.com/shop/619-Egg-Minder-Smart-Egg-Tray. Sigh.

      (* The fail is you should re-stock before you run out, not after. Especially important for toilet paper & condoms. And bacon.)

      • doxin says:

        you could theoretically use a monte-carlo simulation to guesstimate when groceries will run out, before they do. no change to the hardware, just to the software.

        • lwatcdr says:

          You could also also track coupons and match them up for you.

        • Tony says:

          Sure, but then you need to scan the stuff when you bring it into the house, or OCR the dockets or something.

          Household stock control and monitoring, yay.

          You can dump that chore onto the stores since they’re already tracking you: “Hey, you’re probably low on bum fodder by now, time to stock up!”. (Probably too much bacon.)

          See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=all&, which includes the infamous “Target pings teen as pregnant & upsets her Dad” story, and a few bonus creepy bits.

          If stores added facial recognition (which they’re starting…), checkout could be eliminated. Cameras can monitor what you add to your trolley, they know who you are, and bill you accordingly. How convenient! And they not grabbing your phone’s MAC address either, so privacy!

          If you the online type who doesn’t have time to go outside, then they can just automatically send you whatever it is they think you need! “Thank store, I needed a condom as our wedding anniversary is next week!”

          • wolfy02 says:

            did you like, forget to take your meds today or somethin?

          • Tony says:

            The bathroom bar code scanner is apparently on the fritz, so they didn’t get ordered.

            As someone else mentioned, it’s a (re-invented) solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. And if it does exist, it can be solved in better ways (eg random poster points out my meds seem lacking – thanks random poster!).

            But hey, if you’ve a scanner, you might as well use it. Hammer, meet nail.

      • dx says:

        Well, I just now about it learned :) Quite useful thing in my opinion. BTW thanks for the reference to quirky, I couldn’t remember everything in any way as this site is called. I have a few ideas.

      • Chris C. says:

        But I stock two cartons of eggs. Same with packages of toilet paper, condoms, bacon (one in the freezer), and many other goods. This minimizes the number of shopping trips I have to make. I add something to the list when I throw away a package, but since I don’t actually need that item right away, I can defer shopping until I run out of one of the few items that are impractical to double-stock (like milk).

        So this would actually work very nicely for me.

        Plus, sometimes my hands are dirty, or something cooking needs immediate attention, so I don’t immediately add an item to the list – and end up forgetting. No worries with this. I like it.

      • lwatcdr says:

        The two of each is a good thing to be sure. It will also not work on things like fresh produce but a solution does not have to be perfect to be useful.
        One more thing, yea like anybody on Hack a Day needs to worry about running out of condoms… Reaching the expiration date sure but running out? Dream on.

  2. Alexander Rossie says:

    What I’d also find helpful is advice on which bin to put it in. Maybe even save (jam jars, bottles to be used for homebrew etc)

  3. speakeasy says:

    Will this system work for people like me who throw things in the trash like a basketball and yell out “KOBE!” ?

  4. sn says:

    Link out to trello is borked.

  5. kjkrum says:

    Every now and then, you see a hack that is just plain brilliant. This is one of those.

  6. vonskippy says:

    Another techie solution looking for a real world problem.

    Stuff (that usually gets purchased on the weekend shopping trip) gets thrown away in many more rooms then just under the kitchen sink – the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the garage, the basement, etc. And many things don’t have a barcode – vegetables, paper towels, etc.

    So how is this better then the traditional notepad or whiteboard by the fridge? Or any of the multi-user “Out of Milk” type apps where everyone in the household can add to the shopping list from their smartphones?

    If your under the sink gizmo can’t put EVERYTHING you need on the shopping list, then it’s just a hassle and not a viable solution.

  7. echodelta says:

    And the TP is thrown away in the bathroom!
    Meter the linear use of TP… ‘duino sensors etc. And weather the seat is …

    • Tony says:

      All that’s been done as well, of course we’ve now gone one better with automated dispensers.

      Wave hands, get toilet paper.

      I wonder how long it would take a cat to figure that out?

  8. This looks great. Typically you just throw away things one at a time, so it would be easy to scan them in when you want one added to your shopping list. I would download the product info to a local database, and have a web interface to the list of things that need ordered so that anyone on the local network could add things to the list of products to order. Then print the order to take to the store.

  9. Craig says:

    I love this. Mainly because someone has got a working example. I have been on-and-off trying to get one working myself for ages, however whenever I get back from work recently I just want to relax. I do most of my shopping on tesco.com as I don’t drive. Whats great about Tesco is they have a grocery api, so I’m currently implementing this to add to the basket when an item is scanned, so, every other week when I do the shop, I just add anything I want that is out of the ordinary, and everything I have binned is already there. I’m trying to write a php service that will do the heavy lifting between the hardware and the Tesco API.

    • Tony says:

      Do it all in software. Track the intervals between ordering each item, and use that to predict when you’ll be needing it next.

      That’s how basic point-of-sale works, (this is a variation), along with a few minor things like minimum stock quantity (must have X amount of coffee) and seasonal variations etc.

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