Using wireless tech to solve the world's food waste problem

Written by
Scott Lyon
Scott Lyon, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Oct. 11, 2023

Roughly one-third of all food produced in the United States gets tossed each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worldwide, the United Nations has estimated that half of all fruits and vegetables go to waste. 

Now researchers from Princeton University and Microsoft Research have developed a fast and accurate way to determine fruit quality, piece by piece, using high-frequency wireless technology.

The research team developed a system for determining ripeness using wireless signals in the sub-terahertz band that can scan fruit on a conveyor belt. The sub-terahertz signals — between microwave and infrared — interact with the fruit in ways that can be measured in fine detail, leading to readouts of sugar and dry matter content beneath the surface of the fruit’s skin.

 “If we could reduce food waste, it would help feed the population, reduce malnutrition, and help mitigate the impact of climate change,” said Ranveer Chandra, the Managing Director of Research for Industry and CTO of Agri-Food at Microsoft.

This research was reported on Oct. 3 at the 2023 ACM MobiCom conference on networking and mobile computing and won Best Paper Award there.

Environment Tags
Research Themes