DEVELOPMENT OF A PROTOTYPE DISPENSER TO REDUCE POLLUTION, CONSERVE AND INVENTORY FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
PROJECT TOPIC: Robotics
CATEGORY: draft technological and social innovation
Fruits and vegetables are exposed to a great quantity of contaminating factors while are exhibit on stores, this affect their longevity and the customer´s health.
During the development of this project a prototype container was built, this prototype protects the fruits of environmental microorganisms and the ones formed by the direct handling of buyers; at the same time, it monitors the different variables related with the quality of the fruits. This device allows the owner to control the inventory and get alerts if there is any product under decomposition risk; the customer can access to useful information about the product; this information is communicated via Ethernet.
Using the prototype, a comparative observation about the keeping of apples and pears was made during 3 weeks; and it was found that the fruits handled without washing hands began their decomposition process in the first week, but the ones handled after the use of an antibacterial gel to clean the hands, began their decomposition process in the third week. Also, It was made a sampling on different stores where it was possible to conclude that fruits and vegetables are exposed to contamination through direct handling by the customers from 9 to 15 times and were sneezed by people from 6 to 8 times before being bought. The device highly protects the product from this kind of contact and from environment factors; unfortunately, there are not still measurable results of it.
Robolution Loyola Team started to do research in 2011 on the design and construction of an automated container for fruit that can be used in a "domotics store for distribution of fruit and vegetables." This device provides information on the physical variables concerning the setting where fruits are kept in order to obtain indicators of their quality. This way, when being in a monitored environment designed to reduce pollution, the product longevity is increased as well as its quality and safety are guaranteed to ensure greater quality and safety conditions for the client's health.
Besides, this device is hoped to become an interactive domotic peripheral both for the owner and the customer, allowing their communication via Ethernet, so that useful information can be gotten to feed web devices, routed through QR codes, which aim at providing data on the keeping of fruits, as well as their hygiene, benefits and uses. Consequently, it is expected that in a funny and interactive way, the implementation of smartphones and tablets can lead people to become updated on issues concerning fruit and vegetable, so that people´s health can be cared for, too.
The system has also a pollution prevention mechanism that promotes automated compusory use of antibacterial gel, so that people can only have access to fruits once they have washed their hands with it. This way, the amount of bacteria coming from the container via human contact is reduced.
All the information coming from the device is spread through the network to an owner´s central computer's, who has a graphical interface that lets him view both product information and quantity.
The group's medium-term projection is to develop other automated systems that allow the implementation of a "domotics store to distribute fruit and vegetables." This is why, other technological strategies such as business, surveilance and productive development are being implemented to obtain the resources which are needed..
Initiated development of this project in the context of the "FIRST Lego League" (FLL), an international competition sponsored by the FIRST organization, its acronym "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" and other sponsors such as National Instruments, Lego, NASA, among others.
Robotics team in collaborative work, performed a search of related to foods problems, each team visited different places, to socialize highlighted the work of one of the teams that toured marketplaces, vegetable shops and supermarkets neighborhood city chain; observed as pollution problems that are exposed to the fruit, in terms of handling, insects, rodents, sneezing, coughing, among other factors. This was alarming because during the observation it was found that the product was handled not only by customers but by the same employees, several times before being purchased. This raised the fairly ambitious proposal of fruits and vegetables Domotics Store.
It is considered that the technological and social innovation, which raises the project is an important development, because it stimulates research, creativity, skills development and technology skills, teamwork, and the impulse to machine-building, making use of open source hardware and software, resulting in our case a device intended to improve conditions in the handling of fruits and vegetables in commercial environments where a large flow of people interacting with products.
Has a great social approach, since its objective is to protect the health of consumers and provide a tool for easily accessible information through mobile devices, wireless networks and web tools, which are elements that are present in the life of a large number of people.