Kazuhiro Shimura, a director at Dentsu Group's Future Creative Center, demonstrates the Tuna Scope, an AI-based system that judges the quality of natural tuna using cross-sectional images of their tails, at Misaki Megumi Suisan Co in Miura. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato

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

By Tim Kelly

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'd 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 kilograms - 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.

© Thomson Reuters 2020. Click

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Tsuna not exactly on a path to sustainable fishing this app might not help.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The highest quality fish - which can each weigh around 300 kilograms - have sold for more than $3 million in past tuna auctions.

I wish they would stop quoting these ridiculous values for the Tuna. Those multi-million dollar purchase prices are purely down to a couple of sushi shops competing to pay the largest amount at the New Years auctions for marketing/PR purposes. On a normal day that same fish would have gone for about $60,000


4 ( +4 / -0 )

Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries

Seeing our aggressive consumer marketing of endangered (Atlantic) and vulnerable (Pacific) bluefin here, perhaps the above industry body - which includes wholesalers and retailers - should read as:

「Organization for the Promotion of Tuna Fisheries」

5 ( +5 / -0 )

AI....Advanced Intelligence, not artificial intelligence, something that is far too often misused here and throughout Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tuna not exactly on a path to sustainable fishing this app might not help.

However, there are tuna farms, and they are sustainable. The tuna raised in farms is actually more expensive than "wild", because of the high costs and risks in raising them, but as long as Japanese and the world wants tuna, people will pay the price.

Not to mention that the average consumer is not going to know the difference in taste anyway.

People comment that they "love" the fatty tuna, "otoro", even if has been sitting around for a few days in the refrigerator, and anyone that tells you it tastes great is lying through their teeth, as all it tastes like if fishy-flavored butter! Point is people "decide" here what tastes good by price and not by actual quality nor flavor.

Case in point Beaujolais nouveau.....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

First world problem...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does it measure mercury and radiation levels in an app rating?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

let's see, mercury, radiation, and don't forget the plastic beads you're eating

This is all bioaccumulative, so it'll need to keep track and tell you when eating tuna is over forever. Probably a countdown. But that's crazy

Or you could have some sweet potatoes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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