Oh, if your food could talk.

“You can’t mix those foods and expect to live.”

“I will produce a mold that will make you wretch five ways from Sunday.”

“The omelette lump and I were three weeks old when you ate us–relocate to the bathroom asap.”

Perhaps food that actually speaks (after you’ve eaten it?) isn’t the best way to prevent future psychiatric care. But, what if your food storage could tell you (in not so many words) with a quick glance, and in a most elegant way, that you have food to eat or suggest recipes based on what you already have. That’s Ovie Smarterware.

Ovie set out to redefine food storage and, with an already funded Kickstarter campaign, they’ve struck a cord with hundreds who want a better method to keep tabs on the food in their fridge.

The idea behind it is simple. Provide a smart, simple way to know what food you have available. It can be used to store leftovers, but it’s more than just food storage. You can also clip or tag a food item to expand it to any food in your pantry, stashed in your gym bag, or hidden in the office fridge.

With an app that integrates with Alexa, you can check food items, receive notifications or get recipe suggestions before heading home from work.

Not sure about you, but I have no less than five containers of… something… in my fridge. It likely will not be eaten. I can’t begin to think how much time and money this could save. The only downside might be eating the rest of that casserole I shouldn’t have made in the first place.

I think IEEE Spectrum summed it up best when they said, “I love the idea that a $90 set of gadgets can beat a $4,000 smart fridge at the intelligence game.”

Dave Joseph, Co-Founder and CDO at Ovie Smarterware, gave us some more insight into the initial design process. It shows just how important the details can be and where you may not expect to find them.

I needed to decide on the width of the containers to lock in the diameter of the lid.  The “presence” or “feel” of the container was critical to get right so I knew I had to make prototypes to get it right.

We were developing two container sizes at the time: a six cup and a three cup. They both needed the same diameter to accept a universal lid, so the height of each would be driven off the shared diameter. I chose three diameters that bracketed the diameter I had been targeting in CAD, and calculated the heights for the six cup and three cup resulting in six models needed to fully evaluate the design.

To quickly build these simple shapes 3D printing seemed overkill. I turned to the wood lathe; a tool I had learned to use during my years at MIAD. And went to use that very lathe at MIAD through their alumni facility access program. I used printed cross-section drawings from SOLIDWORKS and a variety of calipers to transfer measurements from the drawings onto the model.

In a classic Goldilocks scenario, after building all the models it was easy to see that, at the larger diameter, a three cup container was too shallow and the narrowest diameter made the six cup container too tall. Another on the fly prototyping opportunity arose as Ii was working the material by hand on the lathe. Just as we can understand a curve better when drawing it by hand over and over again, I found that creating the inner lip geometry of the container over and over again by hand let me really dial in the curve.

This process as a whole allowed me to understand the physicality of the object I had been staring at on a screen for so many hours and gave me insights on how to improve the design in ways I’m not sure I would have found without it.

I absolutely love that this smart, connected product found it form through multiple lathe operations. It’s a testament to, not only knowing digital tools, but having a foundation in working with your hands and utilizing tools that are too easily dismissed.

The Kickstarter campaign is still going for now and Preorders will be available after, but the Kickstarter price saves you 25% with the Smart Container Kit that comes with 3x Ovie SmartTags, 3 Ovie Smarterware 6-cup containers, and an Ovie Hub (with Ovie app) for $75–just little more than a set of three dumb ol’ Pyrex container and way less than that smart fridge.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.