Sushi meets AI: Japanese inventor’s app scopes out choice tuna cuts

Fins ain’t what they used to be: An AI-based Tuna Scope app judges the quality of natural tuna. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 July 2020

Sushi meets AI: Japanese inventor’s app scopes out choice tuna cuts

TOKYO: If you’ve ever bought supermarket sushi, you may know the taste trauma that hit Kazuhiro Shimura one night. But “disappointing” tuna sparked an idea: He would develop an artificial intelligence (AI) system to make sure your sashimi is always delicious.

Shimura, a director at advertising firm Dentsu Group’s Future Creative Center, came up with the concept for “Tuna Scope” AI as he chewed his raw dish while watching a television show on fish merchants who spend a decade mastering the skill of selecting high-quality tuna for sushi restaurants.

Using a deep learning algorithm to crunch through grading data from merchants, Tuna Scope has now evolved into a smartphone app. Clients can download and use it anywhere, creating “a unified grading standard” for an industry that relies on local know-how, said Shimura, who is working with Japanese trading company Sojitz Corp. to promote his technology.

“That means people can be sure they are getting delicious tuna,” Shimura told Reuters at fish merchant Misaki Megumi Suisan, which ships AI-certified tuna overseas.

The highest quality fish — which can each weigh around 300 kilos — have sold for more than $3 million in past tuna auctions. According to the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries, around 2 million tons of tuna is consumed around the world annually, of which Japan accounts for a quarter.

Since the start of coronavirus pandemic fish merchants from the Maldives, Spain, the United States, Taiwan and elsewhere have contacted Shimura about Tuna Scope because travel curbs mean they can’t visit suppliers to check tuna quality, he said.

At Misaki Megumi near Tokyo, one of the merchant’s buyers Shingo Ishii held a smartphone with Tuna Scope over a tray of tuna tail sections on a metal tray as other workers used industrial saws to cut up frozen tuna shipped from around the world. The AI delivered a result within a few seconds.

“I think this will become a common tool over the next 10 to 20 years,” said Ishii, holding the smartphone over one of the tail sections.

Ishii admitted to mixed feelings about a technology that could make his job easier, but threatened to make a skill passed down through generations obsolete.

“To be frank, I think I can still beat the AI,” he said. 


Apple to launch first online store in India next week

Updated 18 September 2020

Apple to launch first online store in India next week

  • The company at present uses third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in the country
  • India has become a key focus of tech giants over the last few years

NEW DELHI: Apple announced Friday that it will launch its first online store in India next week, as it seeks to increase sales in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets.
The company at present uses third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in the country.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that the company “can’t wait to connect with our customers and expand support in India.”
The Sept. 23 launch comes ahead of India’s major Hindu festival season beginning next month.
With a nearly 1.4 billion people, including millions of new Internet users every month, India has become a key focus of tech giants over the last few years.
In August, three contract manufacturers for Apple iPhones and South Korea’s Samsung applied for large-scale electronics manufacturing rights in India under a $6.5 billion incentive scheme announced by the government.
Apple assembles some smartphones at Foxconn and Wistron’s plants in two southern Indian states.