Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wine-tasters out of jobs - and tea-tasters next?

Well, we're only at the initial stages yet, but wine-tasters should consider themselves already to have been given notice ...and tea-tasters will no doubt be the next profession to be made obsolete.

Japanese scientists have developed an automated wine taster, which they claim can correctly distinguish 30 popular wines.

The machine, developed by Japan’s NEC System Technologies and Mie University, is called Wine-bot. It is twice the size of a three-litre wine box, and consists of a microcomputer and an optical sensing instrument.

A five-millilitre sample of wine needs to be poured into a tray in front of the machine. Light-emitting diodes then fire infrared light at the sample and the reflected light is sensed by photodiodes. By identifying the wavelengths of infrared light that have been absorbed by the sample, the Wine-bot distinguishes between the 30 different varieties or blends of grape correctly within 30 seconds - and can even tell where the wine came from.

The company promises to extend the number of wines the device can recognise before it is commercialised.

Till now, fraud detection has been performed by highly talented and trained human tasters, and careful analysis of a vineyard’s records. Now it is clear that the days of this profession are numbered. As I say, tea-tasters can consider themselves next in line. My advice to those worried about the future is: learn to become robot repairmen. Though the lifestyle of a robot-repairman may not be quite so glamorous or desirable, these jobs should last just a little while longer before "robot-repair robots" start being produced as well. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: