When June comes around, who isn’t ready to sink their teeth into a bright red slice of watermelon? It's one of the greatest gifts of the summer harvest.
Until now, however, it’s been a guessing game. You can't tell how ripe a watermelon will be until you slice it open – and then you might discover that you paid for a “lemon” devoid of flavor and moisture instead of a watermelon. As for the “hit test”, where you give the melon a smack and listen for that hollow sound, it works more like “hit-and-miss”.
Finally, there's good news. Three watermelon-loving students at Israel's Technion Institute decided there must be a solution. They put their engineering training to good use and came up with a high-tech solution: a sensor, which attaches to an app via Bluetooth, that determines the taste and quality of a watermelon before it's cut open.
Technion computer science majors Salah Abd Alhalem, Adam Garah and Ayman Sarha’an found that there is a correlation between a watermelon's internal and external appearance. The device takes three pictures of the melon at different angles, after which an algorithm analyzes it and a taste rating is assigned – 1 being the lowest level of ripeness (“atrocious”) and 5 being the best (“divine”).
The students said they used the device on 30 watermelons and came up with a 100% accuracy rating. Furthermore, they think it can be used to determine the ripeness of other types of fruit.
The device is currently in the prototype stage and is not yet available.