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Today's Wine Class Article

Robots with a Sense of Taste for Wine

NEC System Technologies, a technology-oriented IT company provides customers with infrastructure and solutions that best fit their business requirements and by consolidating accumulated knowledge create valuable solutions for the new generation and deliver them to customers.

The Mie University that looks for the creation of a unique educational environment and a research program based on the local region toward the world together with NEC System Technologies has developed a "Personal Robot with a Sense of Taste".

The Japanese researchers have manage to create a "robot-sommelier" that is capable of examining the taste of food and giving the name of the food as well as its ingredients. But the robot can provide more information beside the ingredients and can give advice on the food and on health issues based on the information gathered. The achievement was made possible by combining NEC System Technologies' robot technology and pattern recognition technology with the analytical techniques of the infrared spectroscopic technology of the BIFE Laboratory. The director of the NEC System Technology Research Laboratory in Japan explained that: "There are all kinds of robots out there doing many different things. But we decided to focus on wine because that seemed like a real challenge."

The first robot was called "Health and Food Advice Robot," but now the experts developed it into a so-called robot-sommelier, or "wine-bot" that can "taste" and identify types of wine. The shape of the robot is very pleasant is it is 2ft-tall (0.6m). It uses sensors with infrared light to identify different tastes. Infrared light is fired through the sample, and the robot can differentiate between different types of food and drink by determining the different wavelengths of light that are absorbed. By using its built-in voice function, the robot can convey exactly what it has found out.

The press as well as the world of wine has reacted in different ways to the launch of the robot.

The Associated Press it is useful as it could become personalised to recommend wines to suit its owner's palate. The robot is capable of distinguishing several different types or blends of grapes and can be personalised to alert a customer to the wines they prefer, and to recommend to new varieties that they might like to try.

For the moment the tasting power of the robot is limited but the researchers expect that in the future the robot could be used by the wine industry to help in quality control. Nowadays when the global wine market boasts thousands of wines it is very difficult for a robot to distinguish between all of them.

Bibendum Wine Limited occupies a very special position in the UK wine trade and overseas as it made two very significant joint ventures, one with Lion Nathan Wine Group for their regional Australian wine portfolio, and the other with Boisset of Burgundy for their range of fine French wines. As a reaction to the launching of the robot-sommelier, Dan Coward, from Bibendum Wine Limited, said: "I love new ideas in wine, but this one seems like technology for the sake of it. The human wine taster will always have the upper hand in terms of flavour, smell and texture, and can make qualitative judgments based on the combination of these factors. We are trying to get more people to taste wine as often as possible, so it would be a real shame if they decided a robot should do that for them."

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Robots with a Sense of Taste for Wine

NEC System Technologies, a technology-oriented IT company provides customers with infrastructure and solutions that best fit their business requiremen...

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