Propose a new service that leverages AR technology to increase the awareness of food waste issues among the public.
Service design/ AR design
3 months in 2019
What I did
Kamala Payyapilly Thiruvenkatanathan
when the hungry are fed”
- Dorothy Day
Food is a critical factor in many cultures around the world. However, because food is an indispensable resource, it has been ignored and wasted. According to The National Resource Defense Council (2012), approximately 40% of all food produced in the United States goes to waste. Also, almost a billion people are going hungry and undernourished. What’ worse, the degradation of food releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, which is also a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. Therefore, a solution is needed to solve the demanding issue for society.
There are several reasons for wasting food, including poor-planning shopping, lack of skill to reuse leftovers, poor visibility in refrigerators, confusion over date labeling, etc. But we've concluded that an awareness of the edibility of the misfit's food is an issue that can be addressed easier but made a bigger impact.
How do the customers think?
“If I'm going to buy a box of tomatoes, I’m gonna buy the best-looking ones, right?”
“I know it has nothing to do with the taste or the quality, but when you set it in a bowl you wanted them to look good.”
Most of the customers preferred purchasing perfectly shaped fruits and vegetables. So fruits and vegetables in the grocery store have been carefully selected, and they look exceptionally beautiful. Supermarkets opt to buy and sell only fresh, perfectly shaped produce. This results in wastage of deformed foods and misfits, at both farmer’s and customer's end.
Photo credit to Andrew Yang
What is the food sellers' opinion?
“In the bigger realm of raising the product, anything that isn't in perfect shape or size just gets discarded, so the grocery store approach is they won’t buy it if it's not perfect.”
“the grocery store wants plenty of showcased stuff, they reject a lot of Misfits, or something if it's just not perfect… because the average buyers just want the picture-postcard looking product.”
Compared to the customers, food sellers have higher motivation in reducing food wastage, because they want to lower their cost and boost their brand images by introducing responsibility. For example, Kroger collaborates with a non-profit organization called Zero Hunger to donate food to people in need. However, not every grocery store does the same thing because they are afraid it’s not safe and may face some legal trouble.
Photo credit to Kamala P.T.
So awareness matters
Food sellers may have made some efforts towards reducing food wastage, but none of them will work without acceptance, meaning they need to engage their shoppers. This requires awareness. It is an effort to get closer to shoppers and inviting them to become important contributors to positive change for a more sustainable future.
Reframe the problem statement
To increase people’s awareness about ugly food thereby reducing food wastage
But how to increase awareness?
We've found that social media is a great medium to help increasing awareness and make the virus effect, especially when the content is creative. The ice bucket challenge in 2014 is a great example. It was an activity involving the dumping of a bucket of ice water over a person's head, either by another person or self-administered, to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and encourage donations to research, and the phenomenon exploded on social media. So, we've decided to adopt a similar concept and design a game that can have the same influence.
Now meet Bite2Get
We designed a new system called Bite2Get, which encourages players to virtually consume the falling misfits to get free misfits box in real life. The more they can catch in the game, the more free misfits will send to their door.
Design an experience that is JOYFUL, SILLY, AND CHILDISH
As the design lead of the team, when I defined the experience of the game, I wanted it to make our players feel "joyful, silly, and childish." Therefore, whenever the time we designed its interaction, UI style, terminology, and music, we always make sure that they are aligned with our principles.
For the UI design aspect, I chose a retro style of the 8-bit game. I chose 4 common fruits that are easy to recognize- Avocado, strawberry, banana, and apple, and darken their colors to present a sense of "misfit."
When the users launched a game, they will see a brief animation, which is a pity apple fallen and murmuring about his situation of being thrown away by human beings. The animation can help the users to better understand what the misfits' food faced nowadays. After the animation, it leads to the landing page.
Once the player enters the game, there will be a hint to guide them to position on the right place on the screen and then hint them to open their mouth to catch the fallen food. We apply the AR technique to enable the users to interact with the misfit food virtually. The interaction is not only easy to play but also is a metaphor for not wasting the food. The screen also has a record button so the player can share the playing video to social media. When the time is up, the Result page will show how many foods the player got, and ask them to leave their contact information to send the misfits food to their door. Our ultimate goal is that we hope by playing the game, it can increase the public awareness of the misfits' food and let people know that misfits' food is not different from the normal food.
How does the system work?
We identified three main stakeholders in the system- Bite2Get, the misfits’ providers, and the players. The misfit’s providers would be the food source for Bite2Get, and Bite2Get can help them to attract more customers. By creating a fun game and sending misfits discounts to the players, the players can help us to gain a reputation by spreading it on social media. And of course, the players can get the misfit food by giving the money to the misfits’ provider. So, this is a win-win situation for everyone.
Evaluation and feedback
In order to evaluate our concept, we invited 10 participants to play our game. During the pre-game interview, we found that most of the players were not aware of what misfits were. They thought that misfits were fruits and vegetables that are about to rot or overripe. We believe this is also a huge misunderstanding among the public. Then, our players found the gameplay as well as the music, simple yet fun. They also felt that the experience of receiving a free box of misfits when they sign up was rewarding and encouraging them to consume misfits. Overall, they believed that the game will absolutely spread awareness about misfits.
Bite to get your misfit food