Smartphone camera used to estimate taste of vegetables

Makuta Amenity Co has developed a smartphone application that enables one to estimate the taste and nutrients of vegetables and fruits just by taking their pictures with a smartphone camera.

Makuta Amenity is a company that is based in Fukushima Prefecture, and deals with agricultural products. The company targets the application at a wide variety of users such as farmers, distributors and general consumers and will commercialize it in April 2018 or later.

The application analyzes the images of the external appearances of agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits. It creates histograms of the three primary colors of visible light and estimates the taste of the product based on the correlation between the histograms and taste data that has been quantified by using a taste sensor in advance. As a taste sensor, Makuta used a system developed by Intelligent Sensor Technology Inc, a venture firm that develops taste sensors.

In the same way, the application estimates the amounts of nutrients contained in an agricultural product. To increase estimation accuracy, it uses only taste and nutrient elements with which 80% or higher correlation has been confirmed.

The correlation between tastes (or nutrients) and image data is stored in a database developed by Makuta. The application accesses the database via a network.

With the smartphone application, farmers can ship their products while showing quantitative data for proving that they taste good and can enhance the “brand” of their products, for example. Distributors can separate tomatoes suited for salads from tomatoes suited for soups in the aim of satisfying consumers more.

As non-destructive systems for measuring the sugar content, etc of agricultural products, there are systems that emit infrared light and conduct measurement based on reflected light.

“The new application eliminates the need for additional hardware by using a smartphone, a familiar device,” said Takehiro Makuta, president of Makuta Amenity.

Some smartphone cameras can shoot infrared images. If such smartphones become common, the company will consider developing an application using infrared light, it said.

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