Agtech startup GoMicro has built a $1 microscope to solve a $1 trillion food waste problem

South Australian agtech startup GoMicro hopes to tackle the $1 trillion problem with an app-based device that costs just $1 to manufacture and attach to a smartphone.

GoMicro CEO and Founder Dr. Sivam Krish developed GoMicro’s Spotcheck app and a phone-mountable magnifying glass designed to accurately assess the degree of ripeness or spoilage of fresh food.

The microscopy 4.0 startup is based at Flinders University’s New Venture Institute. It was originally launched in 2020 as an Edtech company before changing to become GoMicro after finding a bigger opportunity in the agricultural sector.

GoMicro won the Bayer Grants4Ag competition, which led to an ongoing relationship with Bayer Crop Sciences, as well as runner-up in the 2021 Rocket Speeder FOOD WASTE + LOSS Accelerator Program pitch competition.

Dr Krish gets his evidence on the effectiveness of the GoMicro’s Spotcheck device in reading food spoilage accuracy during his presentation at the 400M Agrifood Innovation Forum in Toowoomba, Queensland, today.

He believes that the innovation, which brings greater accuracy through a superior imaging system and AI app, could save our agricultural industries huge sums of money.

“We can judge the ripeness or spoilage of fruits and vegetables with an accuracy of 86 to 99 percent, measured in days,” he said.

“It is a very hot topic for the food industry to address as an estimated 30% of our food is spoiled. We can see that there are some very strong commercial opportunities for an inexpensive and portable device to have the power to make accurate food spoilage assessments.”

Dr Krish says the GoMicro team created 100 images of a range of different vegetables every day to collect training images for building the AI ​​application. AI applications typically require thousands of images for training and are unable to achieve high accuracy in field conditions.

GoMicro’s goal of reinventing the microscope and equipping it with artificial intelligence is designed to make technology of the highest quality accessible to the public and not just scientists.

The company’s patent-pending technology creates lab-grade imaging conditions that significantly increase detection accuracy, reducing the number of images needed for training purposes, resulting in the most accurate AI detection available with this technology. magnification level.

GoMicro initially focused on agriculture to help farmers and agronomists detect pests and foliar diseases and accurately assess food quality.

“Any farmer with a phone has the diagnostic capability of an agronomist — by incorporating a more accurate AI engine into the Spotcheck microscope attached to a phone,” said Dr Krish.

“It is an important breakthrough, because microscopic information can provide a wide range of information on a wide range of agricultural issues. More importantly, we are making it possible for anyone to build and deploy accurate AI applications.”

His solution already has many fans, with Ten farms Fresh Produce Executive David Holman says: “Go Micro application is absolutely brilliant for all fruit in tray packaging and it has so many benefits including labeling compliance, stems, blemish and color.

Doctor Jonathan Middis, SA Innovation manager at the Fight against food waste Cooperative research center said the current problem for the agricultural sector is that currently about a third of the food supply intended for human consumption is lost or wasted.

Closer to home, research by CSIRO shows that this amounts to no less than 830 kilotons of fruit and vegetables that are wasted in packaging and processing alone, he says.

“Consistent accessible quality standards are one way to significantly reduce this figure through the supply chain, and we are actively working with partners on new technologies to deliver solutions in this space.”

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