Category Archives: Project

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

What Industry Experts are saying about the Omni Label…..

These are real quotes from real industry experts that we have collected!



I am very genuine in suggesting the team explore the potential of a patent.”   


There could be tremendous applicability in connection with the current push to provide customers with quick access to key nutritional information.”


The depth of [the team’s] research was truly on par with what I expect from college students we hire as interns.”

Senior Director of Environmental, Safety, and Food Safety
Big Grocery Store



I like how the label changes dynamically, as information is added to the database.”

Manager, Emerging Technology Center, Big Grocery Store




We all were struck especially by the intelligence, maturity, and poise of [the team].”

Vice President of Risk Management,

Big Grocery Store




It would be a great idea to have a scanner in every aisle, and at the check-out.”

Patricia I.

Manager, Big Grocery Store

Having this functionality on a cell phone would be a huge leap in technology in this industry.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Atlanta, Georgia

What could possibly go wrong?”

Batteries Not Included!

Hopeful FLL Team, Murrysville Pennsylvania

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Project


Visit the Experts: Giant Eagle Corporate Vice President of Risk Management

Found this in the draft folder. A crucial part of our team’s story, I’m sorry you missed it. Now step into the time warp, and the post as it should have looked weeks ago…

Today we took a field trip to the Giant Eagle Corporate Headquarters to meet with Mike Sealy, the Vice President of Risk Management, and his senior staff. They listened and talked to use about the various facets of our presentation. They offered valuable advice, such as putting dedicated Omni-Label scanners in the grocery aisles, as well as the cash registers. They loved our idea and said they thought it would be a valuable tool in tracing recalls. Then he gave each of us a goodie bag with chocolate covered pretzels.

We later received the following email from one of Mr. Sealy’s staff members.

“Mary Beth,

I was very impressed with the Robot Project team’s presentation last week.  The depth of their research was truly on par with what I expect from college students we hire as interns.  Their ability to then work as a team to transition that research into a meaningful solution, really stood out to us.  Lastly, I can’t say enough about each individual’s presentation skills and composure.  Presenting to a group is difficult enough, without the added pressure of the audience being comprised of individuals with decades of technical experience.

I also wanted to comment on the label idea.  I am very genuine in suggesting the team explore the potential of a patent.   I must admit, I have some concern in terms of the overall application for recalls, due to the need for regulatory support to require this type of change from the current labeling process.  However, I believe there could be tremendous applicability in connection with the current push to provide customers with quick access to key nutritional information.  There are a number of systems currently showing up on tags on grocery shelves that apply numerical values relative to nutrition, or state nutritional claims.  However, there isn’t anything that I am aware of that provides the ability to personally customize the information to your individual needs.  And, I think that the growing population of health conscious consumers are more likely to want to take a few seconds to scan an item that they have questions about to ensure that it meets their needs; instead of investing the time required to fully review a nutritional panel and label to try to pull out the specific details of interest.

I wish the team luck in the contest and their future pursuits.  Although, with the skills they possess, I am certain they will make their own luck.


I think this is an awesome endorsement and will be sure to show it to the judges. Until next time! -Conlon N

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Food Safety, Project


All In a Day’s Work

Today we took two giant steps towards the competition day. We met with a local competitor team to compare robots and share ideas and innovations, and had a conference call with Anne Reid, Deputy Regional Food and Drug Director for the South East Region of the United States. We learned a lot, and we hope to share some of that insight here, with all of you, our loyal readers.

We met today with the Mother of Sorrows School FLL Team ‘The Robo Eagles’. They had a highly developed gear rig designed to get both the thermometer and cooking timer at the same time. I have to say, I’m jealous. It was a nice setup. I talked with Jonah, who was one of the lead engineers of the team, about some common problems facing both teams. We then, in the spirit of coopetition™, took to working on a sort of alignment tool for the cooking timer to help ensure accuracy on that mission for the Robo Eagles. It came out quite well, and just goes to show that two (dozen) heads are better than one.

Batteries Not Included and the MOSS Robo Eagles pose for a picture after a friendly competition and pizza lunch.

As another reference for our presentation, we called up Anne Reid, Deputy Director of the FDA for our region. Our group talked to her for about half an hour and presented her with an idea. She said that she loved our idea and would love to see it in operation. Mrs. Reid also talked us through the timeline of a recall, filling in some of the blanks we had even after our visit with Mrs. Isherwood a couple of weeks ago. (Anyone who missed that can read that post here).

BNI around the conference call phone.

All in all, it was a very productive day. We accomplished a lot and learned even more. We hope to see the Robo Eagles and all of you on the board this Saturday! Good luck to you, one and all. -Conlon N

For the official project reveal paragraph and exclusive photographs from our visit with Mr. Sealy (Vice President of Risk Management at the Giant Eagle Corporation), click here.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Core values, Outreach


Project Teaser Posters

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Expect more on our project as the week goes on!

See you on the board!

-Conlon N

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Project


Field Trip!

The manager at our local supermarket told us about……

• Recall notification is fast. Corporate emails management at each store and product is immediately pulled from the shelf. It is tracked with a special scanning code so that all product is accounted for. It is also “blocked” at the register, so someone cannot inadvertently buy it.
• Recalled product is destroyed. The retail store is reimbursed from the manufacturer. If the supermarket created the product (e.g. bakery cookies) then they lose money.
• If someone returns a product because they found a foreign object in it, it is held at the office until a manufacturer’s representative can investigate it.

She showed us a cool $5000 scanning “gun” that has the special “blocked” code for keeping track of recalled product. Here is a photo of Nate with it.

She agreed with us that if food labels were dynamic, information about mislabeled food would get to the consumer faster.


-Julia N.


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Project


What is FLL?

Due to the large amount of site traffic, we decided to back up a bit and explain what the point of all of this craziness is.

The FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition is a internationally recognized event focused on two main parts: the robot game and the project.

First Lego League is an education initiative aimed at middle school aged kids to inspire them to pursue careers in science and engineering. First and foremost, it’s a blast.

Our team, cleverly named Batteries Not Included, started sometime before last season (September to early December). To be honest, I don’t know much about the founding. I wasn’t recruited for a month afterwards. But apparently a few of my friends got together and ordered the starter kit and went to work. First, let’s back up.

The entire competiton is split into two parts, the robot and the project. The robot is an autonomous vehicle made out of the Lego Mindstorm kit (of your own design) that must perform certain challenges. For each challenge (or mission), your team is awarded points. The team with the most points at the end of three attempts wins.

The project is a research project on a predetermined topic (this year’s topic is food safety) in order to design a solution to a problem within the topic. For example, our entry into last year’s bio-medical topic was a filter designed to prevent clots from leaving the heart and causing massive damage. We wrote up a five minute presentation (and a song) and presented our idea to a panel of three or four judges. We ended up placing 1st in the project and 3rd overall.

This year’s competition is on December 3rd, so we are finalizing our designs and scripts for the big day. If you want to learn more about our team or the competition, check out the links below. Feel free to like/follow/+1 us on our social media sites!


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Competition Day, Core values, Outreach


Allergy Fun Facts

Megan drew this egg. Isn't she talented? We are putting it on our TShirt.

Every 3 minutes, someone goes to the emergency room from a food allergy– and every 6 minutes the reaction is potentially fatal anaphylaxis.

In 2008 there were over 50,000 cases of anaphylaxis from food allergies in the United States alone.

Most allergic reactions are from foods thought to be safe, but which were mislabeled or contaminated during processing.

Wikipedia defines anaphylaxis as a serious allergic reaction that comes on very quick and could cause death. One symptom is throat swelling. Others are an itchy rash and low blood pressure.


Julia N.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Food Safety, Project


QR Codes

Conlon here. As a bit of an explanation of some of the tech we throw around the site, we wanted to add this blurb talking a bit about QR codes. (Thanks to Ashley for writing this!) As always, leave a comment with a question and we’ll get back to you.

 QR codes, short for “quick response codes”, carry information in the vertical direction and the horizontal direction, allowing them to carry much more data than the ordinary bar codes. QR codes are capable of storing texts, URLs, email addresses, coupons, and other useful information in a very small area. Also, they can be read by a QR code scanner app. They are being used in a wide variety of applications, such as manufacturing, logistics, and sales applications. QR codes are also used in common everyday uses, such as paperback spines, rental video cases, sushi plates, product packaging, magazine articles, ads and many more things!

We think QR codes are pretty cool, and are incorporating them into our food safety solution. There are many tools available to create them. We use to create codes, and Photoshop Elements to add fun graphics to them. We have an assortment of QR code scanners downloaded to our iPods and Smartphones and have fun testing them out. We are even putting a QR code on our T-Shirt! We are ordering them this year from and crossing our fingers that they scan. I honestly don’t think we will have a problem, but you never know.

And here someone on our team will jump out and say the single most overused line this season. “What could possibly go wrong?” I’m sick of how true it is.

Working through some software hiccups with our faithful NXT. Our secondary robot died, so we’re looking for a suitable replacement.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Food Safety, Project


Do you know how to schedule?

Hey there!

Have you ever had a meeting and no one knew when the next meeting was? Well, this might solve your problem!

Assign a communications secretary.

Within our team we have jobs, if you want to read more you can go find more about in the August 28 jobs post. But my job is to schedule every meeting, figure out what time these meetings are, and coordinate a designated snack person. We are very serious about our snacks. Last meeting, Nate’s mom forgot, and felt so bad that she sent two pizzas to our meeting location.  We were so excited! Those pizzas were gone in about two seconds. Mrs. B, you can forget snack and send pizza again any time you want! Thank you so much!

But, anyway, back to scheduling.
During the first few weeks of the season, each family created a Google Calendar and “shared” it with the others. Everyone is so busy — we have to work around soccer practice, piano lesson, Chinese school, voice lesson, cello lesson, track, boy scouts and girl scouts! In Google Calendar, we blocked off which days we were available to meet.  By overlapping everyone’s calendar, we could see the days that worked best for most of us. That is how we came to set Tuesday and Friday as our meeting days. We often skip Fridays because we like to go to the high school football games or middle school dances, but we tell coach we prefer Saturdays because we get more robot time.  Sometimes we feel like we want to get more accomplished so we even pick a third meeting slot, but that is not our normal! We only had to use the Google Calendar for a little while, as everyone has a pretty consistent weekly schedule.
Once we picked which days were best, we had to come up with a system to let everyone know. The problem with just typing email addresses in by hand is that sometimes you miss someone.  You could go to the trouble of making a distribution list in your email program, but then everyone would have to do that individually.  We decided to use one central mailing list, like a post office. We use Google Groups to setup our email alias.  Everyone who wants to be on the list, joins the Google Group.  Then, anyone in the group can email everyone by just remembering the one email alias.  No more worries about someone missing an email!
As communication secretary, after every meeting I will send out an email informing everyone about the next meeting. This is great for those that miss the meeting and need to know or you just simply forget.
I just want to warn you though. DO NOT DEPEND ON SPELL CHECK. AUTOCORRECT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. ITS YOUR ENEMY!!!Last week, I sent out this email inviting everyone to help with the coach’s yardwork.   Enjoy a laugh at my expense!

Just a friendly reminder that there is aerating tomorrow at Megan’s house from 1-3+.

So start sending those emails!

BNI member/secretary
Kevin F

1 Comment

Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Core values, Outreach, Schedule


QR Collage

As a part of my ongoing explorations into the seemingly limitless possibilities of QR (quick response) codes, I incorporated BNI’s various methods of outreach into one JPEG. The codes are compatible with all QR readers found on a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android. If you don’t have one yet, go to Enjoy! -BNI Engineer, Conlon N

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Outreach

%d bloggers like this: