This article is part of a series giving you an insider’s view of the products coming out of Pittsburgh that could change the world.
Two decades ago, I had the privilege of visiting Microsoft’s “Home of the Future” on the company’s Redmond, Washington, campus. The facility looked futuristic with heads-up displays for recipes, smart appliances and ways to keep track of your kitchen inventory.
But somewhere along the way, the concept got lost. For years, we haven’t seen much more than smart refrigerators and internet soda machines. But Pittsburgh-based Adrich is rectifying that — helping to turn the home of the future into the home of the here-and-now. It was on our list of 15 Pittsburgh tech companies to watch last year.
Adrich, founded by Adhithi Aji, has developed hardware and software — with four patents in hand — that attach to consumables, measuring what you use. Through internet-connected processes, Adrich makes sure you never need to worry about whether there’s enough milk for breakfast or detergent for your next load of laundry.
To understand how Adrich is changing the way brands can interact with us, I recently took a tour of the company’s version of a “smart home.” (Actually, it was a bunch of consumer products on tables in its North Shore office for the purposes of this demonstration). Watch below to see how the product works.
It starts with Adrich’s sensors. When your pet food, cleaning products, olive oil or vodka arrives in your home, sync the purchase with Adrich’s system and the tracking begins.
Adrich partners with brands to include sensors on some products but also offers portable bands that can be put on any item to monitor use.
It’s product tracking — not consumer tracking, says Vance Wood, technical delivery manager for Adrich. That means “no cameras, no scales, no microphones.” Adrich aggregates the brand data so companies know if their product is just sitting on a shelf or being used, but there is no personally identifiable data.
The consumer can set up automatic reordering with vendors who are alerted when a product is running low.
The Adrich team believes that the process could be more eco-friendly by encouraging better utilization of refillable packaging. And they paint a picture in which businesses could benefit. A bar, for instance, could avoid time-consuming inventory checks of open bottles.
In the back of my mind, there may be an even greater potential — it can help change our habits by using reminders cued by actual usage. In the words of Wood, “I buy my toothpaste; but that doesn’t guarantee that I have white teeth. I still have to use the toothpaste.”
Know of a product or service being developed in Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh-based company that is creating growth, will change the world, or is just cool? Let David know. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of our Inside Pittsburgh Tech series.