I am typing this from my train towards Exeter. The last day of the IBM Best Student Recognition Event 2015 was today and I feel glad I was part of it. Where should I start? Perhaps with the delicious stroopwafels next to the coffee.
Preparing the pitch
If you needed a reconfirmation of how time constraints, a clear goal and stress can either break or make teams – look no further. Today’s session was a massive departure from the evening prior when my team and I had left feeling a bit saturated and with work left undone.
But never mind the past. Today’s goal: design our pitch in a 16-slide narrative, for a four-minute presentation and 100 minutes to make it happen. We would then be selected at random to present and convince the jury (Toine, Alessandro and Robert-Jean – read more on them on day 1) to invest in our idea. Challenge accepted because we were in this together and were most certainly going to see it through!
We knew we could manage and with the available, we were able to automatically synchronise, figure out what was needed and self-delegate responsibilities without ever talking about roles! I was so impressed – I still am. Seeing Wiktor jump to the board and start sketching the slides and brainstorm with Benoit. Paul and Martin proofreading the narrative and finding exactly the images we needed to tell our story. For those last 40 minutes I recall us working like a well-oiled, decentralised, self-learning machine. We were brilliant: dear Benoit, Wiktor, Paul and Martin, we know where we started on the final day of the event and we should be proud of what we accomplished. It was a pleasure to have met and worked together 🙂
The winning idea to tackle food waste with millennials
I’m really excited about this part of the post. I managed to get an interview with Jérémy Dubrulle, one of the members of the winning team. He was kind enough to answer a few questions on the winning idea: FoodPrint.
Could you please describe your winning solution?
Jérémy: “Our solution is called FoodPrint and it uses tomorrow’s technologies to empower people and food waste. FoodPrint is a platform that gathers data from your smart household appliances and using big data it analyses your daily habits and recommends how to reduce your ‘food print’ through a wearable on your wrist or via smartphone. FoodPrint is not just an application – it’s an entire ecosystem that aims to become the standard by defining metrics and labels that truly empower the user. For example, FoodPrint could use the data from a compatible smart fridge to send you a notification at your wrist when you do the food shop and scan an item you already have in your fridge. It may recommend an alternative to this item with a lower footprint on the environment or just convince you that you don’t really it.”
What were the key concepts you had in mind when imagining FoodPrint?
Jérémy: Firstly, our premise was that telling people about an app to help reduce waste is not powerful enough to make their behaviour actually change. Unfortunately, food waste is not everyone’s first priority. Even if we are aware of the problem, we assumed people wouldn’t use our solution for the sake of it. We quickly understood that minimising food waste couldn’t be the aim so we had to imagine a system that would change people’s behaviour as a consequence of our solution, THAT was the real challenge. Secondly, in a few years, the Internet of Things will be a major part of our daily lives and every smart object in our homes will provide new types of data that can be harnessed by an intelligent solution. From those both concepts, we came up with FoodPrint.
How did you translate those concepts into the design process for the solution?
Jérémy: We had some difficulties with deciding on the right level of abstraction for the concept. Towards the end we thought focusing on smart fridges and collecting data would be too narrow. That’s why we came up with a level of abstraction that would allow manufacturers to implement our FoodPrint metrics, enabling them to streamline their product with our platform. Assuming that FoodPrint sustains the long-term interest of the press and public, it would be in the manufacturers’ best interest to implement our solution as it would show customers that they care about food waste and would allow them to differentiate from the competition.
Could you also talk a bit about your team and the group dynamic?
Jérémy: Well, one of our strengths was the diversity of our team. We had brilliant people from diverse backgrounds specialised in the fields this project required.
What did you get to take back home? – beyond this amazing experience and friends that will last a lifetime, of course!
Jérémy: Every member of our team received an Arduino Starter Kit which is an introduction to the basics of electronics and also a great kit to test prototypes for new products. We also received an IBM certificate which is really rewarding. I don’t like to speak about ‘winning teams’ because it implies that there are ‘losing teams’ and, for me, there was no loser. I sincerely think that every student at the event gave their best and deserved to win the challenge. Every team came up with great solutions to this complex food waste issue. Beyond that, I think the most important lesson came from working together in a team made up by different nationalities trying to make the world a better place, is there something more gratifying than that?
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