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SA startup moves into Sri Lanka seafood market


GoMicro has landed funding and a major partner to test its AI assessment app on tuna for a major Sri Lankan supermarket chain.

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Created in Adelaide, the GoMicro AI microscope has previously been used in a kit to diagnose leishmaniasis in war-torn nations, in schools as a teaching tool and on farms to identify pests.

It is now being tested to grade tuna for consumption in Sri Lanka.

The GoMicro technology combines a mobile phone microscope attachment with an artificial intelligence suite that is able to recognised patterns and objects with a fraction of the number of photos usually required.

GoMicro CEO and Founder Sivam Krish said that their AI microscopy tool had impressed an investor in Sri Lanka because it had the ability to grade seafood, such as tuna, with a database of 100s of photos instead of tens of thousands.

“We now have an investment from a star investor Jeevan Gnanam in SriLanka so we formed a fully owned subsidiary there to do our software development,” Krish said.

Gnanam introduced GoMicro to John Keells Holdings PLC, the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka and the owner of supermarket chains.

“Their supermarket chain has an extraordinary commitment to deliver fresh food. They procure directly from farmers through five collection centres and put it in shops with 24 hours,” Krish said.

“We actually talked to them to help them assess vegetable quality, but tuna assessment was a bigger challenge.

“While it is easy to differentiate really good tuna from really bad tuna, it is difficult to differentiate good tuna from not too good tuna.

“It’s a 12-year apprenticeship to train a tuna expert, so this is a problem in the edge of human assessment.”

GoMicro solves this problem by allowing warehouse staff to simply use their phones to take a photo of the tuna and the AI-supported app then quickly determines a grade so they can label it and send it to the appropriate store.

The GoMicro technology is able to develop this grading database quickly because the Adelaide-based company, which was spun out of the New Venture Institute at Flinders University, has solved the problem of bad lighting that often hinders photo databases by optically engineering the lens and building a diffuser into the tech.

“It is not all about magnification, it is about the quality of the images,” Sivam said.

GoMicro uses advanced manufacturing technologies to manufacture the microscopes and the Tensorflow AI-engine developed by Google to make predictions.

The technology is being tested at Colombo supermarkets before a planned roll out to the chain’s 100 stores around Sri Lanka.

Sivam said the AI system could easily be adapted to other seafood as well as fruit and vegetables and their business plan was to sell subscriptions to the system.

“We offer 10,000 clicks a month for USD $100, and the device comes free with the subscription,” Sivam said.

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