Could smartphone sensor detect fruit freshness?
The new miniature sensor technology can analyze anything from crop quality to measuring the maturity of fresh produce and can be used by shoppers in-store as a guide to what to buy and when.
The technology could soon hit the market, following a licensing deal between The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Panorama Synergy.
UWA’s Microelectronics Research Group (MRG) has developed a spectrometer sensor that uses light to analyze the properties of different objects and is potentially small enough to fit inside a smartphone.
Head of MRG, professor Lorenzo Faraone, says infrared spectroscopy is already used across many sectors; the grains industry to determine the quality and value of crops, the pharmaceutical industry uses it for raw materials testing and quality control and it’s also applied in oil and gas industries, used in medical diagnosis, defense and security.
"Those applications however require expensive laboratory grade instruments and that is set to change with the UWA Microspectrometer," he says.
"It is a MEMs device, manufactured using cleanroom processes developed for the electronics industry and hence can be mass-produced at very low cost.
"This change effectively takes spectroscopy from laboratory-based scientific and industrial uses and places it in the hands of consumers and commercial users for field-portable applications."
Faraone adds that future development could lead to shoppers pointing their smartphones at fresh produce and getting real-time results.
"It could also be used in drones to help search for minerals in the ground or to identify water around crops and for a multitude of other innovative commercial applications."