There’s a Pi In Mike’s Fridge

How often have you stood in the supermarket wondering about the inventory level in the fridge at home? [Mike] asked himself this question one time too often and so he decided to install a webcam in his fridge along with a Raspberry Pi and a light sensor to take a picture every time the fridge is opened — uploading it to a webserver for easy remote access.

inourfridgeIf building IoT products is your daily bread, you will probably be able to replicate [Mike’s] build in a matter of hours, but [Mike] is kind of new to programming, electronics and especially the Raspberry Pi. Being an unstoppable tinkerer, and with a bit of help from the open source community, he made it all the way through the project to enjoy great success. He even installed a little buck converter that regulates the 13.5 V provided by the fridge’s power supply down to 5 V for the Pi and its peripherals.

All the cables and electronics were eventually hidden away behind the white plastic cover, where the build now provides everyday usefulness. The fridge also has its own website –  inourfridge.com – where it feeds the public interest for [Mike] and [Lauren’s] fridge content.

Behind [Mike’s] build stands the realization that fridges are more than just white boxes to slow down the deterioration of food. They are social, collaborative food-sharing and consuming platforms, jointly used by family members, friends, co-workers, and nightly thieves. Of course, they need to be hooked up to the web. Enjoy the video of [Mike’s] build below!

Thanks to [Hassi] for the tip!

29 thoughts on “There’s a Pi In Mike’s Fridge

    1. Followed by a sudden and otherwise inexplicable rise in their health insurance fees.

      The entire idea is silly, other than the benefit of learning the skills to do it, however for a more useful option have a barcode reader and or webcam an object recognition setup that lets you wave things into and out of the storage area records so that it’s state can be determined by looking at the database records for those events. It wouldn’t take much more equipment either, but it would take a lot more knowledge and effort, a perfect goal for version two!

      1. I disagree. This idea of an internet connected fridge has been around for a while now along with the concept of rfid tags or barcodes on the food which the fridge uses to keep inventory. But… who actually has one? It’s like flying cars!

        Barcodes suck. You have to wave your food by manually each time you stock up. Also.. how many of us have real barcode scanners lying around. Most makers will try to implement that with a camera. Cameras are good enough for occasional use but given time to focus and the effort to properly line the barcode up and get it just the right distance away from the lens… every time you fill your fridge… for every item you put in… forget it. RFID.. sure. Just as soon as every grocery item comes with an RFID tag.. who’s paying for that again?

        Even if suddenly all of the major food producers started packing RFID tags does everything in your fridge come from such companies? Do you ever buy any fresh food? How about my peaches that I can myself? Forget it!

        Finally.. how does the fridge track the amount of food left in a package? Maybe it knows there is a carton of eggs but are there still a dozen in it or only one?

        This idea… just snapping a picture… it isn’t perfect. Honey.. are we out of yogurt? Maybe there is a cup of it behind that big tupperware bowl… So what! Having a picture is a whole lot better than having nothing! Maybe occasionaly he will miss something that is hidden behind something else and buy it when he didn’t need it. A picture might not prove that your fridge is out of something but it does constrain the possibilities by proving that you are not out of many things.

        If nothing else I see this as a solution that will give me a better idea than the WAG method (wild ass guess) that i normally use when my wife asks if we need milk or not. I wish I had thought of this. I just might copy it!

        I’m not so sure I would make mine quite so public though… I might add a little bit of access control…

        1. You have to be narcissistic to write so much about your opinion yet offer so little of value.

          And you completely missed this point of mine, “webcam and object recognition”

          If you don’t like my reply don’t bother sharing your opinions with me again unless they have some chance of forming part of a productive dialogue, or they contain genuine insights beyond your naive and incomplete opinions.

  1. Good work. I did the same, only using one of the cheapest IP cams put on the door. Angle not good, so I used wide angle attach lens for smart phones. Better, I can see the whole fridge. Well, the perspective is not so good and I don’t see the door. Also, a fridge is 3D and the camera cannot really see beyond front items which is the biggest flaw. Gave up on the idea, but i should do a writeup.
    Also, in his setup, putting the pi outside saves some energy. Probably not much, but it saves some.

  2. Great project. Took a lot of ingenuity on that one!

    I was thinking about a IR security camera mounted back some and up on the cieling looking down at the refrigerator. It would not be exposed to cold, no wires sticking out of the magnets, and using JavaScript you could write code to detect a fully opened fridge or freezer. It would see the ENTIRE front contents including the side door. It would see the freezer too with no visible light either. You could still use Raspberry Pi but in this diagram below you could use a PC/Laptop and a browser to capture photos or videos to upload to a web server with password. The user would have to open the doors fully so the program will detect a matched static image.

    Here’s a plausible diagram of how it might look:

      1. djsmiley2k – Yes but Mike’s Fridge works kinda’ the same way… you have to open it wide to work. In my scenario, you open both doors full wide and stand back. Then the PC does pattern recognition and then emits a tone burst to let you know that the photo was captured. But the high angle of my camera could look over your head into the fridge anyway. No need for wide angle lens as the camera in the cieling is set back by 10-15 feet providing full view of contents.

  3. This whole idea is weird. A spreadsheet and basic inventory rules are far superior. Update as things go in and out. Plus a spreadsheet or any primative software can keep an up to date shoppoing list from current inventory, meal options, etc.. also accomodates fridge, cupboard, pantry, deep freeze…

    1. I use a variation of that. But it takes some thought and planning to work out a good system, else you may find it takes so much effort to maintain that it nullifies any benefit.

      And then you must put forth that effort consistently. If you get sick, are under impossible deadline, or for any other reason start cutting corners, the inventory you’ve come to rely on goes to hell quickly. Same result if any other person in your house won’t update the inventory consistently.

      The fridge-cam isn’t perfect. But you can still go to the store and look in your fridge. Possibly gaining some useful info, like I’m almost out of milk. And that info requires no planning or effort on your part. I can see the appeal of that, and why it made it to a high-end commercial product which was this project’s inspiration. Can see it trickling down eventually to cheaper commercial products as well.

      I also like how [Mike] documented the design process in the video.

  4. this would be good for keepin track of the umm, “science projects” growing in the fridge!

    from Stargate –

    T’ealc “O’Neil, are you conducting a science experiment?”

    O’Neil “Hey!! That salsa is fine, it’s only been in there a few months”

  5. I have a similar thing but mine is fully autonomous requiring no input from me and mine does the washing and restocks the fridge as needed.

    There are certain bugs in the base firmware that result in repeated annoying noises that never seem to stop and the system is generally quite expensive to run but I wouldn’t be without it now, I couldn’t survive.

  6. Why not buy 3 or 4 pieces of each? Everytime it goes down to one left, you write it down… at the end of the week or on the shopping day you just have a list of somethings you might otherway forget to buy, at least some… And of course you can add those things that are bought only once a year…

    You can even program your shopping trips according with special shop promotions at the time.

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