AgShift is on a mission to remove human biases from food quality inspection by using computer vision and artificial intelligence. It started off doing this by having inspectors use smartphone cameras to snap pictures of food (like berries), which were then analyzed by AgShift‘s machine learning algorithms to assess quality.
While the company’s software platform may bring objectivity to quality assessment, having inspectors manually take photos of fruit was still mostly manual. And when you consider that one state, California, produces one billion pounds of one fruit, strawberries, each year, these manual inspections can still take quite a bit of time. In addition to accuracy, there is a need for speed in the supply chain.
This is why AgShift created Hydra F100 BQ, a new hardware analyzer that the company officially announced today. With Hydra, companies can do more bulk inspection and thereby faster assessment of food like berries and edible nuts.
We wrote about this hardware analyzer before, but that was when it was in the prototype/development stage. Today’s news takes the wraps off the full industrial version of the device.
The Hydra is a kiosk like machine with a touchscreen that is installed at a food processing facility. Instead of inspectors manually selecting and inspecting samples, whole trays of samples can now be inserted into the machine to be assessed at once. The Hydra has cameras above and below the fruit to capture images of this bulk sample, which is sent to AgShift’s cloud platform to analyze it for weight, size, color and to check for defects like mold or bruising. The result is the same objective analysis, but AgShift says it’s now done in half the time of manual inspections.
“When you do a manual inspection [of strawberries], you are inspecting roughly 4 to 6 clamshells in a sample size, roughly 100 berries in total,” said Miku Jha, Founder and CEO of AgShift. “[That] takes 6 to 8 minutes with manual inspection. Hydra does it in under three minutes.”
By removing manual inspections by hand, AgShift says it can also reduce waste because. As we reported last June:
[Jha] said that traditionally cashews are examined by hand, with inspectors looking at one or two pounds of nuts at a time. That takes time, and after being touched, those particular nuts need to be discarded. Both time and waste can add up when you’re processing literally tons of cashews. Using AgShift’s analyzer, sampling can be done faster and samples do not need to be thrown out because of the workflow at the processing facility.
In a recent phone interview, Jha told The Spoon that the company was still determining the business model around Hydra, but that it wasn’t in the business of selling boxes. Instead, the Hydra would most likely be leased with the price of the software subscription coming in around $4,000 per month, depending on the volume of assessments.
AgShift isn’t alone in the computer-vision-for-food-inspection space, Bengaluru-based Intello Labs does much the same thing for farmers in India.
Earlier this month, AgShift raised another seed round from CerraCap Ventures. The amount wasn’t disclosed at the time, but in the Hydra press announcement, AgShift says it has raised $5 million in seed funding. Since just about a year ago AgShift announced a $2 million raise, it looks like the recent raise was for $3 million.