Aug 122015

As we gather more data, the opportunities to apply it become wider. A good example of this is Seer Insights, a South Australian company started by pair of university students that calculates the likely grape yields for vineyards.

Seer Insights’ product Grapebrain is made up of two components, a mobile app that the farmer uses to count the grape clusters on the vines and then a cloud service that analyses the data and produces web based reports for the farmers.

The current methods are notoriously unreliable with Seer Insights estimating mistakes cost the Australian viticulture industry $200 million a year as harvests are miscalculated resulting in either rotting fruit or wasted contractor fees.

Born in an elevator

Seer’s founders, Harry Lucas and Liam Ellul, started the business after a chance meeting on their university campus. “We started off doing this after being stuck in a lift together,” remembers Liam. “Originally we were looking at the hyper-spectrum imaging for broadacre farming but when we started looking at the problems we ended up talking to wine organisations about this.”

“The technology predicts how many grapes will be coming off the vineyards at the end of the season to enable people to sort out their finances,” Harry says. “The growth process grapes go through is difficult to model so we use machine learning to do that.”

For both the founders having an off the shelf product, in this case Microsoft’s machine learning tools, to run the data analysis made it relatively easy to launch the product.

As a winner of Microsoft’s Tech eChallenge, the startup has won a trip to the United States as well as being profiled by the company as a machine learning case study.

Over time as these tools become more accessible to small companies we’ll see more businesses accessing machine learning services to enhance their operations.

As companies face the waves of data flowing into their businesses over the next decade, it will be those who manage it well and gather valuable insights from their information that will be the winners.

  One Response to “Putting machine learning into wine”

  1. […] fields in an information rich economy and already we’re seeing companies springing up to help farmers estimate crop yields, truck drivers plan their routes and even organisations like the Royal Flying Doctor Service using […]

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