Coconut - Food Freshness System


I collaborated with visual designer Anh Le and industrial designer Kelsey Boyd on this project, aiming at developing a financially beneficial and natural habits to be adopted by consumers, and ultimately help with a sustainable food system. I led the team in the research stage for problem definition, I also initiated the final idea and designed the app with Anh.

Coconut is a product and service system that advocates a smarter consumption of food, which means utilizing existing produce without delving into extraneous resources.

The video shows design statement, user scenarios, and key features. I animated the phone screen interactions.



Problem Definition

Food waste is a problem especially in developed countries. 55-65% of food is wasted by consumers in developed countries like the US. We decided to focus on one and two people households. 

Semi-structured are conducted with 11 college students and recent grads. 72 people responded to the online survey. The team gained an understanding of grocery shopping and cooking habits as well as problem areas.

Core problem areas include: limited cooking knowledge, low life efficiency, unorganized fridge storage, and impulse buying.



Initial Solutions


I sketched as I thought of some ways to influence people's behaviors and how the experience might be. Fellow students feel reluctant to adopt these solutions because some ideas are very intrusive. They rely heavily on technology or the user has to remember something. Technologies make mistakes, and user don't like changes. 

Refined Goals and Solutions

Confusing information about freshness of produce and unawareness of inventory often causes food waste through over-buying, and impulse purchase. This leads to a large amount of consumers’ food purchases being wasted.
An engaging, easy-to-use solution that provides users with accessible information about their food’s freshness and quantity will enhance the personal experience of shopping and cooking. This will eventually have positive impact on lifestyles, economics, environmental sustainability and the food system as a whole.


The idea of ambient display inspired me. I came up with an idea that reminds users of the freshness of food in the fridge instead of strictly measuring consumption for each meal. At the same time, Anh found that the barcode GS1 Databar has the ability to include freshness information and other details in a consolidated barcode.


We had further feedback on the final idea that we wanted to move forward. 

FoodWaste_round2 ideation roundrobbin.jpg

A workflow and system map helped me think about the service system. The solution was inspired by the idea of ambient display - a less intrusive information display to people.


I sketched wireframes and explored visual styles simultaneously. I become more clear of the information hierarchy and visualization of information within the app. 




Final Designs

Coconut is a simple system to monitor the freshness of food. By being more aware of what users have and how to use it, users can save money and reduce food waste.




The goal of Coconut is to not only aid consumers, but to create a more connected and cyclical food system as well. Through the GS1 DataBar, consumers will be able to learn about their product information, as well as where their food comes from and what kind of sustainable practices the farm uses. This access to information will give the consumers a more tangible connection to the food system as a whole. While consumers gain the ability to access and provide concise data on their purchases, retailers will be able to better analyze their consumer data. By having a better awareness of when consumers are likely to buy food, they will be able to better manage their stock and reduce food waste on their end. This effect will ripple back to the supply chain, creating a food system which works together to make the most of our global food resources.




Better Together, IDSA and AIGA, San francisco, 2017

DAAP cares, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, 2016

I was setting up our station at “Better Together“ before the show started.

I was setting up our station at “Better Together“ before the show started.

The day of exhibition at “Better Together”.

The day of exhibition at “Better Together”.