TOKYO — An electronics manufacturer has teamed up with a university in Japan to develop the world’s first technology to check frozen tuna’s freshness using ultrasound and artificial intelligence (AI).
Frozen tuna’s fattiness and freshness have conventionally been judged by cutting the tails off and viewing the cross section. The team formed by Fujitsu Ltd. and Tokai University School of Marine Science and Technology aims to put the new technology into practical use within a few years to replace the conventional method.
Previously it was thought to be impossible to inspect the flesh of frozen tuna using ultrasound. However, parties including Fujitsu have confirmed that it is possible to check tuna with ultrasound at 500 kilohertz. With the new method, the AI system learns and judges the freshness of tuna from ultrasound wave statistics for fresh and stale meat.
Screening tuna by cutting its tail requires expert judgement skills, which are not always common abroad. It is not necessary to cut the tail for the ultrasound test, and the new technology could spread in other countries where people are not accustomed to dealing with tuna. While aiming to put the method into practical use at an early stage, the development team is eyeing wider application of the technology, such as inspecting fish other than tuna, livestock, and finding uses for it in the medical field.
The popularity of tuna has been rising worldwide. Marketing research firm Global Information Inc. predicts that the global tuna market will grow from $40.7 billion in 2021 to $48.8 billion in 2027.
Akira Sakai, a senior researcher at Fujitsu Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said, “In Southeast Asia, it’s common for tuna to be shipped as cheap canned products, even though the fish is worth four times more when prepared for fresh eating. If the ultrasound inspections become prevalent, they could improve the product value, which will also benefit local fishers.”
(Japanese original by Akihiro Nakajima, Business News Department)
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