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I've been learning recently about the Smarter FridgeCam. According to their article, one of the features is:

  • Expiry date notification: Automatic reminders sent to your phone on food expiration dates.

One thing I have been unable to decipher, though. Do you have to manually punch in all those dates on your smartphone, or can you run the date by a scanner and have it automatically add an entry with that date and product?

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I couldn't find anyone to explicitly confirm it, but I think it's very likely. If you look carefully at the image they provide on their website:

You can see that the third menu item is 'Add expiry', which suggests that you have to manually do it. Also, note that almost none of the items in the image are in their original packages, and so they don't have their expiry dates written on them at all.


As an aside, I suspect that detecting expiry dates would be a complicated job—far more difficult than just getting the user to do it. For a camera to be able to detect the expiry date:

  1. The item must be aligned the right way so the date is clearly visible
  2. The text must be large enough for the scanner to read, in an appropriate font
  3. The scanning software must be able to spot which bit is the expiry date on the package (you could perhaps just look for the first date you could see on the packaging, but many items have both Best Before and Use By dates, and might even have production dates on them. That's not even considering the different date formats that could be used!)

As you can see, it's technically far easier to just have the user enter the date, and if they've already had to align the packaging the correct way, reading the date isn't much more effort.

Maybe in future there will be a standard format to show the use by date... But don't raise your hopes too much!

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    Fruit expiration date can also be determined by fruit color. – Helmar Mar 30 '17 at 18:49
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    @Helmar: Indeed, but probably more complex than it sounds... Each variety of fruit has a different colour, different aging trend and lifetime. I wonder if there's any research on whether classifying ripeness with a camera works well. – Aurora0001 Mar 30 '17 at 18:52

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