UAE – Two students at the University of Dubai (UoD) have developed an award-winning prototype that uses automatic sensors to assist monitor the safety and freshness of food donated to communal refrigerators.

The prototype named “Generous DXB Smart Refrigerator” serves as an illustration of how all facets of society may assist the UAE’s Ne’ma National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, which seeks to reduce food loss and waste in the nation by half by 2030 or even earlier.

Under the direction of Soheila Ali, 35, a Ph.D. candidate at the university and Senior Corporate Excellence Program Specialist at Excellence and Knowledge Department of Dubai Municipality, the prototype was created by electrical engineering students Shahad Elshehaby, 19, and Ali Burman, 20, of the College of IT. 

The students created the project as an entry into the UAE chapter of Software AG’s Future Disruptors Programme 2022, where it faced fierce competition from several other UAE colleges, and they took first place.

They are currently working to register the intellectual property rights associated with their idea and getting ready to fund the launch of Generous DXB.

Speaking to Gulf News about the project, the students said the challenges of food waste in the UAE and world hunger were the main inspiration behind the idea.

The UoD team said they tackled three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are “zero hunger, good health and well-being, and responsible consumption and production”, to rectify the existing challenge.

“Here in the UAE, the solution exists, as there are a lot of initiatives to support people who are lesser privileged to afford their meals by allocating community fridges in specific zones,” said Elshehaby.

“However, we felt that the existing solution needed advanced levels of safety and hygiene and therefore, we came up with our innovative solution to rectify the problems in the existing solution through the use of IoT,” said Burman.

Soheila Ali pointed out that the prototype can be used in any type of fridge to ensure the safety of food stored.

With funding of Dh6,000 (U.S$ 1634) from Software AG, the team built the prototype using the Cumulocity IoT platform powered by Software AG to analyze the data received from the sensors. 

“Using this platform, we were able to create different dashboards that showcased the data and the analysis of every single variable. It also helped us create an application that connects the dashboards together,” explained Burman.

In the prototype, the students said, nine different sensors were used to measure the quality of solid food items. 

“We used seven gas sensors along with temperature and humidity sensors. The mechanism of these sensors is based on passing the values or the data of the food item to Cumulocity, where all of the measurements are analyzed to determine the quality and safety of the food using a threshold value for each sensor that indicates the safe zone of the food item,” said the two students.

The teenage inventors claimed they were getting ready for the subsequent steps, which would involve finding sponsors to support the initiative.

They are also optimistic about collaborating with organizations like the Dubai Municipality and the Emirates Red Crescent to further their objectives.

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