Outline your approach to the project? What ideas did you generate, and how did you refine or reject them? What did you research and explore? What were the design choices? What challenges were encountered, and how did you resolve them?
We researched the CMU community through observation and brief interviews, we know that there are over-order food and people seeking for snacks. Also, since people are all from the same community, they feel good about communicating with each other if there are conversation starters. Hence, under the operation of our project, we can connect people in the CMU community to re-distribute food and to build networking. With the goals in mind, we ideate the part of implementation with the combination of IoT technology. Initially, we had the basic concept in mind that we will be building a system that helps re-distribute excess food resources. The technic is quite simple: on the selected spots on campus (usually located within the hall of each department building), there is a food station (a table for food placing), a food switch on the button (for people with excess food to notify people in the community), and a map with light bulbs that indicates the availability status of food at each food station.
However, after further researches and understanding of the community, we found out that most people are not aware of the severity of food waste generated and do not feel they can be part of this issue. As a result, we eventually decided to go one step further to add an educational layer to our project. We want to raise awareness of the severe food waste problem but also to convey the idea that by a few steps of efforts, everyone can deliver significant contributions to the issue. To realize this, we added a food waste meter to the food station to show the "potential" food waste amount and the deduction of the food waste when it is re-distributed and taken away by people from the community. The technic of this part is to add a load cell to the food station to provide input data of the food waste weight and connect it to the food meter so that the increase and decrease of food can be visualized.
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