Summer is just around the corner, bringing with it heat waves, swarms of jellyfish, and sunburns. The hot season also has quite a few advantages. One of this is undoubtedly grapes, but even grapes can cause some grief if you bite into some sour ones.
A new Israeli startup will this week launch a fruit monitor - an app with the arresting name of AclaroMeter. This app knows exactly when grapes should be picked. The development belongs to the AclarTech company, which is developing technology for testing ripeness, quality, and freshness in agricultural produce. The company is focusing initially on "monitoring" grapes, but in the future, its solution is likely to be relevant to most of the existing fruit in the market. At this stage, the company is using a B2B model, and is offering its sensors to farmers, wholesalers, supermarket chains, etc., not to the end consumer.
Image processing and wisdom of the crowd
CEO Avi Schwartzer and CTO Ruby Boyarski founded AclarTech six months ago. Schwartzer told "Globes," "Our product tests features that are already being checked today, such as color, sugar levels, and hardness." The company uses image processing, wisdom of the crowd, and machine learning to assess the quality and ripeness of fruit.
The company's product is based on a smartphone app and a component the size of a cigarette lighter, which sends infrared rays towards the fruit. Using changes in light frequency, information can be obtained about the fruit's internal elements, and it can then be concluded whether or not it is ripe.
Schwartzer founded the company almost by accident. "My background is in computers, not agriculture," he says. "I grew a few tangerines in the yard and they were dry. I wanted them to be juicier. I looked for feedback about what happens within the fruit before it ripens, for example information about sugar and water levels."
This curiosity turned into a technological solution that has undergone a successful pilot at the Tali Grapes company. At the same time, the company is cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Carmel Mizrahi Winery, and the Agricultural Research Organization Volcani Center.
Farmers are already testing the state of fruit, but the process is lengthy, expensive, and awkward, based on laboratory tests. "We are offering something new. Using a comparatively small number of tests, we can provide information about a large field. Our product helps detect the optimal time for picking the fruit," Schwartzer explains.
The company's business model is based on payment per test. "The entire analysis will take place with us, on the cloud, not in the end device of the farmer or the store. We can test three or four fruits within a minute, and that's substantially faster than the current situation," he says.
"Globes": Are there similar products in the market?
Schwartzer: "To the best of our knowledge, we are the first in the world offering this specific solution."
50% of fruits and vegetables are thrown away
AclarTech is one of a series of startups cooperating with TechforGood - an international organization founded in Israel in order to help society and the environment. Beyond the economic and technological aspect, AcklarTech's solution is likely to prevent the destruction of food. The company estimates the market value of the world's leading fruits and vegetables (headed by tomatoes and grapes) at $250 billion a year. It is believed that 50% of the fruits and vegetables are thrown away before reaching the customer's home - a figure indicating AclarTech's impressive potential.
The investors in the company, including former Mercury Interactive VP R&D Boaz Chalamish, have already spotted this potential. One recruit to the company's advisory council is Yonatan Basi, former chairman of Mehadrin, which markets citrus fruit; former Ministry of Agriculture director general, and one of the leaders of the disengagement plan. AclarTech has raised a few hundred thousand dollars to date.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 5, 2017
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