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Say hello to Neo

Toronto-based startup releases world's first smart jar

Smart jars may soon be as popular as smart phones. Or at least that’s what Madhuri Eunni, founder and CEO of Toronto-based tech start-up SKE Labs is hoping.

SKE Labs is launching its first product, a smart jar dubbed Neo, in the next few weeks.

After working as an engineer in the U.S. for eight years, Eunni couldn’t help but notice the gaps in innovation when it came to technology people could use in the kitchen.

“With people wanting to know more about their choices and healthy eating, it seemed like there was a bit of a technology disconnect,” Eunni explains. “That got me wondering how we can make the kitchen smarter.”

After moving to Canada, Eunni created SKE Labs, which stands for Smart Kitchen Ecosystem.

According to Eunni, Neo is the world’s first truly smart container. It’s built with Bluetooth connectivity and sensors. Users simply scan the barcode of the food put into the jar, then through the Neo app they have access to the nutritional information and potential recipes of that product.

The jar also tracks best-before dates and lets users know when they are running low on the product.

“It gives a great amount of insight into how healthy you’re eating without having to measure each portion,” says Eunni.

Eunni expects to see multiple Neo jars in each cupboard for it to have the best effect. “You can store your flax in one jar and your chia in another, and each day the jar can inform you of the nutritional information of the smoothie you mixed.”

SKE Labs is focusing on the user experience of its products for the time being, but Eunni says as more consumers start using Neo for various products there will be a lot of resulting data that would appeal to both retailers, consumer packaged goods companies and health-care providers

The company is relying heavily on the organic marketing channel. Its launch over the next few weeks will be based around crowdfunding site Indiegogo, but Eunni says she hopes to work with retailers in the future who have active online platforms so they can "integrate the shopping experience."

Pre-orders will be available for the first time during the Indiegogo campaign. That funding will go towards final app development and manufacturing, with a final product ship date of November or December.

And while Eunni says Neo is a wonderful jar, it's certainly not the universal answer to all questions in the kitchen. "The kitchen is an evolving space and we're doing our best to understand what people want from their kitchen," she says. "There are still so many things we could be doing. Neo is just the first step."

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