Shinkei Systems’ AI-guided fish harvesting is more humane and less wasteful – Meczyki.Net

Fresh fish isn’t really fresh – even straight from the boat. The way they are caught and killed is not only inhumane but also harmful to the resulting meat. There is a better option, but it is time consuming and manual – but Shinkey Systems Have figured out a way to automate it even on the deck of a moving boat and have landed $1.3 million to bring their machine to market.

It’s unpleasant to think about, but fish harvesting doesn’t really take much thought of the comfort of the fish. How can it work on the scales of fishing boats? What usually happens is that the fish are thrown out of the net, roughly sorted and then thrown onto the ice, and finally die minutes or hours later. not great!

Not only is this cruel, but stress, wounds, and bacteria in the blood and lactic acid in the muscles rapidly degrade the fish’s body.

Of course, anyone who has fished one by one knows that you either have to keep them alive in the water or kill them quickly to get the best flavor. This usually involves bewitching him by striking the head, and then beheading and stomping. Still not pretty, but it’s better than the alternative.

Yet there is another, better method, a traditional Japanese method called ike-jime. Doing it this way is not only the most humane but also preserves the meat so well that it can last days or weeks longer than stewing fish and tastes even better. The problem is that it’s a kind of art.

Ike-jime involves piercing the brain with a sharp spike to send the fish to heaven, then quickly pulling it out, and then destroying the spinal cord. Gruesome, yes, but all of these things lead to stress, pain, and the spread of bacteria and destructive substances through the body. But it has to be done properly and within minutes of the fish being caught, so it doesn’t really scale.

That is, unless you automate it, which is what Shinky Systems has done. The team, led by co-founder Saif Khawaja, has created a mechanical means of completing the ek-gym on freshly caught fish at a rate of one every 10-15 seconds.

A Shinky machine on a fishing boat, left. Co-founder Saif Khazawa, right. image credit: Shinkey Systems

The machine, about the size of a large refrigerator, includes a hopper for incoming fish, an operating area, and an output where it can go into an ice bath. A computer vision system identifies the species and size of the fish, locates the brain and other vital parts, and undergoes ike-jime motions, dispatching the fish quickly and reliably.

“The robotics perform at surgical level accuracy – our vision for this is completely hands-free, with no operators,” said Khawaja, noting that it is also robust against the natural pitching and rolling of boats. “But it’s not just edge detection; we use machine learning in our backbone. Even in the same species, even with the same contour, the brain is in a different location.” Maybe. The advantage of our technology is that we get to adapt to all the fish.”

All this isn’t even done in some secluded Silicon Valley garage. “We have already deployed our first versions to pilots; When I first started this project, I was taking midnight Greyhounds to the dock at 3 a.m. when they were going out, because that’s the only way to talk to them. We are working with fishermen in Maine, New Hampshire and Cape Cod, and we have partnered with distributors for large restaurants in Manhattan.

It’s not just for the sake of the fish that Shinkei and his companions are going through all this. Kitchens pay a premium for fish processed through ike-jime, as it tastes better and lasts longer. The question for Shinkei was whether his machine-processed fish could be compared to hand-processed fish.

Shinkei Fish

Fish processed through ike-jime, on the left, have less blood circulating in the flesh and reportedly taste better as well as be longer-lasting. image credit: Shinkey Systems

“Perhaps the most exciting thing that has happened, also the simplest, is that we handed our fish over to a sous chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant that is one of the best in the world,” Khawaja said. “We gave him three boxes of fish: one suffocated, one hand-processed, the third we were. The suffocation was obvious, but he couldn’t tell the difference between the other two.”

Sushi chefs are more likely to be tech-savvy, but ike-jime is starting to gain traction outside of its current location and Shinkei aims to accelerate it. By making the machine as easy to load, they can enable more fishing boats and distributors to participate, earn more money and even fish right by.

Shinkei raised $1.3 million in a pre-seed round filed in January and is now seeking further investment after initial testing and revision of the design. “What we’re doing with this growth is improving R&D and improving the throughput of the device,” which operates slower than specialist humans but has a lot of room for improvement. . “We should be ready to go into production in the next few months. Now that we are in the sales process, we are also meeting more large-scale distributors and public companies. We just want to put the machine into the hands of the people. “