This project will develop augmented reality glasses, that use real-time machine vision to assist fruit pickers on commercial farms. Currently focusing on blackberries, which are notoriously difficult to pick perfectly ripe every time, the glasses could be rolled out to other fruits after further research.
During this project the partners will develop a low-cost, spectral imaging-based Augmented Reality (AR) prototype glasses device for fruit pickers. This device will determine and label the fruit ripeness in real-time and assist growers to produce high quality berries with consistent ripeness in every punnet. This will lead to reduced waste throughout the value-chain. We're focusing on blackberries, as a proof of concept, as new sweet eating or dessert quality varieties have been recently introduced to the market.
The blackberry market in the UK is currently worth £48.4 m (Kantar data 52 weeks to week ending 23rd January 2022) in annual retail sales. However, determining ripeness by pickers can be extremely difficult due to the very subtle colour differences between almost-ripe, ripe, and over-ripe fruit. In this project, lab-based fruit quality assessments will be conducted at NIAB East Malling to understand their relationship with ripeness, and hyperspectral imaging will be applied to identify a simple spectral index determining the ripeness.
A lightweight AR frame and LED display will be custom-built to satisfy the application and cost requirement. By integrating a spectral filter or fast tuning narrow-band LED light source, spectral imaging will be processed in real time, and the ripeness of individual berries labelled on the LED display.
The AR technology-based picking glasses could also be extended to other soft fruits in due course and, if commercialised, the technology would have a large impact on the UK soft fruit industry and the quality of fruit available to consumers, giving them a step-change in sweetness and consistent fruit eating quality.
Augmented Berry Vision (ABV) - Real-time Augmented Display of Spectral Ripeness Cues in Berry Farms
Innovate UK: ISCF TFP science and technology into practice: feasibility studies
Opposable Games ltd. (lead), Berry Gardens ltd., University of the West of England (UWE), and NIAB EMR.