April 08, 2004

Interesting Apple Technology

The USDA and Minnesota State University are working on a way to automatically measure sugar content and texture of an apple as it passes on a conveyor line.

The story is here

Lu has developed a prototype machine that uses a multispectral imaging system to zap apples with four lasers as they file down a conveyor belt. Computers equipped with artificial neural networks are trained to recognize the absorption and reflection patterns created by the near-infrared rays. Depending on how much light is reflected or absorbed, scientists can determine each apple's sugar content and firmness.

Researchers hope to expand the machine's capabilities to detect acidity and structural defects. Eventually, the same laser technology used on apples will be applied to peaches, pears and other fruits.

“One beauty of using light is that it allows us to measure multiple quality traits at one time,” Lu said.

The prototype machine can analyze one apple every two seconds. Lu said machines capable of handling 10 apples per second on multiple conveyors might be in packing plants within three years.

Very cool stuff. This does not have any application to what we are doing since we are not growing apples for a commercial retail market. Still, the idea of being able to measure sugar content with a hand-held device is a good one and a project like this will certainly have spinoffs that trickle down.

Posted by DaveH at April 8, 2004 11:24 AM | TrackBack