Since I first saw the Ovie team standing in a small booth in the bottom floor of the Sands Convention Center during CES 2018, I’ve been following them to see if this group of founders could bring their vision for a smart food tracker to life. The team, which at that time consisted of Ty Thompson, Dave Joseph, and Stacie Thompson, had scratched together a prototype to showcase their idea at the big show: a low-cost visual tracking system to help people waste less food.
I liked the idea, so I was happy – and a bit surprised – to see that after over half a decade, the company’s founders had persevered and finally shipped product. Sure, the original idea – a “smart storage system” that not only included tags but some Tupperware-like containers as well as an app that allowed you to track your food inventory in one place – was a little bigger than what they ultimately brought to market (more on that in a minute), but the reality is it’s hard to ship hardware. Most project teams make compromises by the time the final product ends up in the consumer’s hands.
When I first wrote about them, I called the Ovie Smarterware trackers a ‘Tile for food’; in reality, the idea is a bit closer to an intelligent sticky note system to help you track your food’s freshness. The way the final, shippable product works is you stick Ovie smart trackers (called LightTags) on the food items you want to track, and you tell them how long you want to monitor a food item by clicking the light on the LightTag once for each day. So, for example, I would click a LightTag seven times for a pound of ground beef with an expiration date of a week from now.
As you can see above, if the light is teal, you have more than 24 hours left on your timer. Yellow warns that you have 24 hours or less on that food. The red light means time has run out. According to Ovie, each color has a blink pattern for the color-challenged. The blinks are slowest in the Teal stage and speed up as the expiration date inches near.
The company persevered through a series of challenges to finally reach this point. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2018, looked for investors and manufacturing partners, and fought through a pandemic and a significant hardware winter. While the Ovie tag system isn’t exactly as proposed in the company’s Kickstarter, the fact that founders saw it through and shipped it is a pretty impressive feat.
If interested, you can buy an Ovie system on the company’s website.