If your fridge is anything like mine, it holds stacks of Tupperware containers filled with various leftovers from meals past. And if your brain is anything like mine, it gets nervous about eating two-day-old salmon, so you leave the fish in the fridge in the hopes that your spouse is either brave enough to chow down — or will just throw it out.
I’m ashamed to admit that these leftover minefields in my fridge lead to way too much food waste on my part. Which is why I’m intrigued by the Ovie food tags. Mike Wolf describes Ovie’s tech pretty accurately as “Tile for food.”
Basically, Ovie makes LED-lit tags that you can affix to food through either a special Ovie container or clip or strap. These tags work with Amazon’s Alexa and when you press the button you tell Alexa “This is lasagna.” From there, Ovie’s LED tags will keep track of how long it’s been in the fridge and alert you when something is about to or has already gone bad. Green light is good, yellow light means it’s nearing the end and a red light means its bad. The company pulls its spoilage information from USDA guidelines.
With the accompanying Ovie app, you can see what foods you have stored and what state they’re in. The app will even make rudimentary pairing suggestions based on other food you have stored with Ovie. So you can enjoy some lasagna, and Ovie might also suggest some green beans that should be eaten soon.
According to Ovie Co-Founder and CEO Ty Thompson, the company is exploring partnerships with recipe apps and delivery services to expand its capabilities. By working with Ovie, a recipe app could see what foods you already have, suggest a recipe and forward a list of any additional ingredients to Instacart for delivery that day.
The Ovie system is not available yet. The Chicago-based company is funded through friends and family at this point and aims to do a crowdfunding campaign at the end of February. When Ovie does hit stores, Thompson says the price points will be roughly $59 for three tags (complete with straps), “a little bit more” for three of the clip version, and close to $89 for three containers.
The big concern for a company like Ovie is when this type of technology gets embedded directly into fridges. LG’s forthcoming ThinQ fridge lets you put virtual stickers on items to let you know when they are about to go bad. And Amazon is researching using scent sensors in the fridge to do the same thing.
That will happen, but over the course of the next five years, there is still a sizable market of people who would rather spend $89 to keep track of food in their existing fridge rather than thousands of dollars on a new one.
One thing that won’t change is how nervous I get about eating leftovers (or even opening the container to see what they are). Hopefully, a system like Ovie’s can help me reduce the amount of food I embarrassingly waste.