Fine granular weight sensor mat for identifying the inventory of food or other products
Publication Date: 2017-Jun-28
The IP.com Prior Art Database
This article describes a system that automatically identifies the inventory of food products or other physical products stored shelves, in cupboards or fridges. The system addresses the problem that inventory taking is currently a time consuming and often manually process. Even though there are advanced technologies like RFID that fully automate the inventory process, those approaches are still too expensive to be applied to cheap items like individual food packages.
TITLE: Fine granular weight sensor mat for identifying the inventory of food or other products
Introduction There are many situations in which it is important or at least desirable to know about the inventory of products. This includes the inventory of products in shops, the inventory of spare parts in a repair shop or the inventory of food in private households. Knowing the actual food inventory in a private household would facilitate a series of use cases which are difficult to implement today. Examples are the automatic generation of shopping lists, automatic re-ordering of food, recommendation of suitable recipes, calculating the ecological footprint of the consumer, estimating the calorie consumption, or reducing the amount of wasted food by informing consumers when the expiration date of food products is approaching (and recommending possible actions). In shops and repair shops there are usually systems in place that update the inventory database when products or spare parts are sold. However, those numbers are affected by losses due to burglary or spoilage. From time to time, the inventory database needs to be validated by manually counting the available items. In private households, consumers usually don't keep track of the inventory in a formal way because there are currently no affordable solutions for automatic inventory taking and manual inventory taking is time consuming and error prone. Therefore, consumers usually either need to remember what products they have on stock or they need to validate the stock manually before preparing a meal. Even more challenging than checking the stock of food items is to manage their expiration dates. Often, it only turns out that the expiration date of a food item has passed when a consumer wants to use it.
Summary The core component of the system is a fine granular weight sensor mat that automatically identifies the inventory of food products or other products stored on shelves or in cupboards. Each board of a shelf or cupboard is equipped with a sensor mat. Once an item is placed on the mat, the weight sensors identifies its position, dimension and weight distribution. This sensor data is matched with previous knowledge about the inventory and about the characteristics of the item. Previous knowledge about the inventory is taken from electronic receipts captured when the items are purchased and is used to identify candidate items that are expected to be put on the sensor mat. General information about the items itself is taken from product databases or Wikis. This includes the product's weight distribution. Once an item has been identified , it is added to the inventory database. If the sensors identify a removal of a product, the item is removed from the inventory database. Depending of the type of item, it is assumed that a decrease in weight is caused by the consumption of a product. For example, if the weight of a sugar box decreases between the point in time it is taken from the sensor ma...