Anyone who’d ever been a vegetarian knows how difficult it can be to get enough protein in your diet. That was the challenge Madhuri Eunni was facing seven months ago, when she came up with the Neo Smart Jar. “I was thinking it would great if there would be a way to measure all the protein powders and the chia and the flax that I usually use in making my smoothies,” she says.
With her startup, SKE Labs, Eunni developed the Neo to help keep track of what she was eating, and the idea expanded from there. The result is a jar that, once you tell it what it contains, can keep track of how much you’re eating, alert you when you’re running out of something, remind you if something’s going stale, and recommend recipes compatible with its contents.
The dishwasher-safe jar has sensors built into the bottom to track its contents’ weight. It connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth LE. Once you pour a bag of spaghetti into the Neo, you can either scan its barcode or manually enter in its name. The accompanying app then retrieves the pasta’s nutritional information, as well as historical information about how long it takes for the food to expire. If your item doesn’t show up in the list, you can add in the details yourself. Once you add an your special pasta sauce, the app will remember it, and the cloud-connected database learns all the time.
As you start using the spaghetti, the jar begins to learn your habits, allowing you to take advantage of Zero Touch shopping. If Wednesday is pasta night, before you run out of spaghetti it will automatically add the item to your mobile shopping list. From there, you can buy it from Amazon or just consult it the next time you’re at the grocery store.
The product launched on Indiegogo today, and early birds can grab one for $49 or two for $99, which are both 45-percent discounts. The units will begin shipping in November if all goes well. They come with a wireless charging pad as well.
The product has been in beta testing for a couple months, and Eunni says people are using it in a couple different ways. “People like to fill up the jar with the staple things that they use all the time, like pasta, salt, sugar, oil, grains, candy, cereals… Coffee was another favorite,” she says. “Typically the thing that people reacted the most well to is the fact that you’re consuming these things on a day-to-day basis, but when and if they wanted information about ‘How much sugar did I consume last week?’ or ‘Have I been using too much oil in my cooking?’ it gave them instant access to that kind of information.” While lots of people kept their jars at home, others toted them to work to help keep track of their snacking during the day. Eunni adds that people loved using the recipe-finding feature, which currently draws from a variety of sources, when they were confronted with an unfamiliar ingredient. In fact, that capability was popular overall.
Several layers of security protect users’ data, says Eunni, including encryption and randomization. The app has the ability to keep track of seven different user profiles and provides information on foods’ fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, sodium, sugar and protein content. “We’re already working on broadening the nutritional profile, and as we add more items to the database and we get more people submitting these things and start collecting live data, it will be a lot more interesting to get that kind of information,” says Eunni.
One day, the technology can go beyond jars. “I think there’s a whole lot of kitchenware that we can be tweaking around from the learnings that we get from the jar, and I’m sure there are, right from bowls and spoons to your pots and pans,” says Eunni. “I’m pretty sure there is a lot we should be doing and we will be doing in the future.”