Smart Prototype of the NYU FREEdge

Smart Prototype of the NYU FREEdge

Prototyping Testing in March 2017 and April 2017:

We haven’t updated the blog in a while,so I decided to add the events and developments that happened before the work began on the newest prototype since the day after the NYU Tandon Research Expo in on April 21st 2017.

The following is what we did between March 1st 2017 and April 20th 2017

After going through the first project critique in March 2017, we removed the Card Swiping lock system from the refrigerator. We introduced a colour coded sticker system. Based on this, those that shared the food only had to put one sticker on the food container. Below is an image of all the food before the sticker system.

How did we make sure that the food was still safe after more than one week?

That is the solution! If the sticker was still on a container for over a week, the container and the food was discarded. Every week day, one person from the team made sure of this.

Monday: Red
Tuesday: Green
Wednesday: Yellow
Thursday: Blue
Friday: Purple
Saturday: Pink
Sunday: Orange

If this sounds confusing, let me give an example: Simon was in charge of this duty on Tuesdays. The sticker associated with Tuesdays was Green. The sticker associated with Wednesday was Yellow. So Simon would remove any containers that had a Yellow Stickers. Of course he would also have to remove all empty containers and food that might have gone bad.

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Now, in the first week of April 2017, we had our second DFA NYU project critique. Here we decided to test the smart aspect of the refrigerator and count the number of users and how it the students used the NYU FREEdge.

The second prototype had a Raspberry Pi touch display which tracked how many users interacted with the refrigerator by taking the count of how many students opened it. It had another feature: take imaged of the food when someone closed the refrigerator. These were the smart features of the NYU FREEdge.

We did a pilot drill so that we can be sure of not damaging the coolant circulation in the refrigerator. Finally, we decided to add the display on the Freezer door, as it was not used by students.

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The sticker system remained while we used this prototype. Adding the smart component gave us a valuable data. We found out that at an average 83 people have used the NYU FREEdge each week between April 15th 2017 and May 16th 2017. However, the images were very dark, as there was not enough light to identify them. A lot of stickers were used during this time. (Even though a new refrigerator had been purchased on the 21st of April, this prototype was operational to get a better quality of data)

Below are two image comparison. The one on the left was taken when the display was attached, the one on the right taken on June 2nd 2017 (this prototype was on hiatus since May 16th 2017), showing that Friday was the day when most food was shared.


This was quite a successful iteration of the prototype. Now the team is working on a new prototype.

Small Update

It’s been few intense weeks in the semester already(phew!), and we at Team NYU-FREEdge have been figuring out how to and what to prototype this semester. And so, the mantra this semester for us, as our Anne-Laure and Hannah suggest is “Prototype, prototype, prototype!”.

We have also been identifying functions within the team to accomplish the goals for this semester. The Blackstone Launchpad Training has been super useful to gain insights too.

The bigger update for NYU-FREEdge has been that we just got featured at NYU Entrepreneur’s blog: Here!

More detailed updates after the first Project Critique of this semester this Friday,  March 3.

Overcoming Obstacles

Welcome all to the spring semester. With classes driving into full gear, so is the NYU FREEdge. Starting next week, the FREEdge’s progress will be entering a rapid prototyping stage, where we will consider and compare all of the prototype options that we’ve developed in the fall semester and have yet to test. Jumpstarting this effort, the grant (and invaluable Blackstone coaching) we are honored to receive from Phase II of NYU’s Prototyping Fund, will help us pursue our ultimate goal of expanding a successful prototype to NYU’s Washington Square campus.
Despite our efforts, however, a technological hurtle has halted our current prototype, using a touchscreen-enabled Raspberry Pi to conduct our “smart” user experience. We are unable to connect to NYU’s Wi-Fi network, rendering our data and live feed of the FREEdge purely local. As a result, we cannot currently provide live coverage of the FREEdge to Share Meals, as we had anticipated. Nevertheless, we are not deterred. Roadblocks allow us to take a step back and reassess previous problems and their solutions to improve upon the model in a way that resolves both current and previous issues; we WILL resolve the connectivity problem. We will retest our user interface with an iPad, which will allow us to bypass our current connection issues, as well as redesign the U.I. with a more streamlined experience.

The second Sandwich Packathon, hosted by Share Meals at Kimmel Center this past Sunday, brought in over 50 surplus sandwiches, further emphasizing the need for the NYU FREEdge in advancing the impact of free-food and affordability initiatives. Therefore, we will move on to light prototyping and data collection with a simple sticky note and color code system. In the meantime, we will investigate workarounds for the Wi-Fi issue and pursue organizational sponsorships for more cleaning supplies, food containers, and additional refrigerators. We also need YOUR feedback. Let us know what you think about the cleaning and packing supplies mounted on the FREEdge, or let us know any advice or ideas you might have; we would like to hear everything! Feel free to leave us an email at or check out our Facebook page.

Project Critique at Frog Design Studio

Thanks to the amazing feedback and support from the community our project “The NYU Freedge” has made successful appearances in various events. One of them being the Design for America (DFA) Project Critique at Frog Design Studio. Well, to start with thank you everyone for all the love and providing us the opportunity to garner insights and expert opinions.

This event was a sneak peak to the NYU Freedge, and  an excellent platform for expert feedback and showcasing our prowess towards food insecurity. Like the last critique the audience consisted of DFA Teams  like FCA, SS Columbia, Med-line Project, Good Food Made Easy, Court Signage, Journalism Project, DFA Members, experts from Frog Design, NYU students and our lovely faculty mentor Anne Laure Fayard.

Our short demo of our Raspberry Pie System and a pitch about our idea was a hit. A constructive Q & A session that followed our presentation gave us valuable insights about wants and needs of people and possibilities of consideration. To sum it all it was a constructive critique that has fueled the fire towards our dream of accepting,sharing and connecting food with people even greater.

Here are few of the moments we captured from the event :


Our team is ready to take food sharing to the next level!


Feedback! Feedback – We value your inputs!

Check out the NYU Freedge at the MakerSpace at NYU Tandon School of Engineering| 6 Metrotech.

We look forward to hear from you, we welcome your comments, ideas and feedback!

And remember if you have food to spare, remember to share !

Our Freedge Kickoff Event!

Today is our kickoff event! We have officially rebranded as “The NYU Freedge”, we have moved our smart community refrigerator to The Makerspace, an area where people congregate at the Tandon campus, our touch screen interface is completed and it has been mounted on the freedge. Now we are ready to gain momentum and start a social movement around food sharing! Join us today!