Deep tech: GoMicro targets retailer benefits of quality control AI tool for fresh produce

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

GoMicro hopes its quality control AI tool allows retailers to create desired standards ©GoMicro
GoMicro hopes its quality control AI tool allows retailers to create desired standards ©GoMicro

Related tags: Australia, Supply chain, Quality control, AI

An artificial intelligence (AI) tool created by Australian start-up GoMicro to test the quality and safety of foods is hoping to expand its use to allow retailers to create and meet desired standards from their suppliers.

First established in 2016 by founder and CEO, Dr Sivam Krish, GoMicro is a quality control (QC) tool designed to grade fruits and vegetables according to size, colour and ripeness, analyse for pest and diseases, and assess freshness in seafood.

While there are many QC tools such as spectroscopy, GoMicro is the first technology of its kind. It consists of a camera (magnifier) that can be attached to any smartphone, and comes along with an app.

Users snap a photos of the product, and the grading, ripeness, and freshness results will be generated on the app.

It is now undergoing QC beta-testing in major retail chains, including John Keells, a supermarket chain in Sri Lanka to analyse the freshness of tuna up to 91% accuracy and measure the ripeness of mangoes and avocados, with accuracy up to 96%.

Krish told us he was also working with Kapiris Bros in Australia for tomato grading with accuracy up to 80%, with the University of Florida to analyse leaf disease with accuracy up to 83%, as well as Fish Tales in Sydney fish market to assess scallops and oysters, and EGA in Peru for pomegranates.

The firm is currently working with many research institutes and companies globally to test and validate its technology for QC.

Krish hopes his technology will eventually allow buyers to create their quality standards such as size, colour or other variables, and send across the standard to the seller.

For instance, a supermarket chain can create a standard for tomato of a certain size and colour, the standard can be sent to a farmer in Thailand to produce tomatoes according to those standards.

Pressing issues

Krish said one of the key issues in the food industry was “treating quality standards like engineering companies​.”

(They expect) everything to conform to the same standards, but every fruit and vegetable is different, a tomato in Singapore is very different from a tomato in Thailand, and every season is different​.

We are not trying to create universal quality standards. At the end of the day, it is between the buyer and the seller. The buyer creates a quality standard, and then gives it to the seller​.”

We are going to change the way people buy and sell food and the whole quality control process​.”

Another key problem in the food industry was food spoilage which results in food waste, a trillion dollar market.

Take the example of tuna, where as much as 30 to 40% of tuna imported into Sri Lanka is already spoilt due to lack of proper on-boat refrigeration facilities

Krish hopes that his technology can be used by both buyers and sellers to reduce food waste.

As of now, the entire supply chain from farm to retail, except end-consumers are its target users, although Krish said he hopes to explore such opportunities in the future.

GoMicro can analyse products in complex environments, even if products are stacked. Many current methods such as spectroscopy, although highly accurate, can only tell if a fruit is ripe from a distance of a millimetre, which means it can only work for small quantities.

GoMicro is currently 3D printing its device, which cost about $15 each. The tools are still in beta-testing, and not commercialised yet.

GoMicro recently won the Bayer Crop Science award, which it hopes to mass produce magnifiers for farmers, at a cost of $1.  

For farmers

Ultimately, its low-cost phone attachment device only requires a smartphone with good internet connection.

That's the big differentiator between us and everybody else is that we can create very high-quality results, no other investments or machines required. Anyone with a smartphone and our ultra-low-cost attachments can do grade & QC without investments or machines, and is better for small producers​.”

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