Smart Milk Jug of the future – The Milkmaid by Quirky and GE

Bhanu Pratap June 7, 2012 0
Smart Milk Jug of the future – The Milkmaid by Quirky and GE

TechNutty is about people who are have a nutty flair for technology and they wish to see it incorporated in just about anything. Well, here is one such product of the future, which came to light during a contest held by ‘Quirky’ and ‘GE’ last month, wherein the participants had to come up with ideas related to everyday objects and how its usage could be improved by adding technology to it.

The ‘Smart Milk Jug’ or ‘Milkmaid’ was the winning entry at that contest and the organizers ( ’Quirky’ and ‘GE’) decided to test the viability of the product by giving it shape.

What is all about?

Milkmaid is a smart milk jug that can tell users when their milk is going bad as well as when to buy some more. It consists of a see through container (which holds the milk) mounted on a smart base plate (which has all the controls). It may not sound very impressive to begin with, but just read about and see the attached video below (courtesy: Quirky) and you might just change your mind.

How it works?

The milk goes into the vessel and in its current design and size it can hold up to a quart of milk (one quart is equal to 0.95 liters). You can keep it outside or even inside the refrigerator as the weather demands. As the milk stored in it, begins to turn sour, a set of pH and temperature sensors located in the vessel’s metal base will periodically take readings and relay that information to the pedestal that the vessel sits in.

That white pedestal, called ‘the SmartBase’ is the heart of the whole thing. When a microcontroller in the base receives the information from those pH sensors, it slowly changes an LED mounted on its front from green to orange to signify how nasty the milk is getting. A weight sensor is also aptly positioned in the smartbase to detect how much milk is left in the vessel, along with a GSM radio module, an antenna, a SIM card, and a heavy duty rechargeable battery to keep the show running.

As soon as the weight dips below a certain preset level, or when the pH dips to a point where the milk has gone bad, the base will send a text message to a user’s phone (through an app available for iPhone) to remind them to buy some more.

This app (for iPhone) which though has not yet taken final shape (but prototype is designed and shown in the video) connects wirelessly to the Milkmaid to deliver on-demand stats about your milk — be it temperature, expiration date, or how much milk is left in the vessel. The app also includes recipes for both regular and spoiled milk (though I don’t know who would like to use a recipe for spoilt milk?). It also has the ability to re-order milk from a grocery store (if the grocery store supports the app) for couch potatoes who not only, don’t wish to go the market themselves but also forget to order on phone. This app knows when to buy and orders by itself (through the sim card attached to the device).

Well, that’s it about the ‘Milkmaid’ and I think it fits fully in the mindset of ‘TechNutty’ people. And yes, Quirky has already finalized the design and engineering phase. Thery are now focussing on test marketing the product. How people react to it and what might be the probable price tag. As and when, Quirky can successfully get over this phase, expect the milkmaid in a store near your place. It may even prompt other manufacturers to come up with such innovative ideas in future.

Below is the video demonstrating the product:

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