The Japanese have a national love affair with robots of all kinds. One of the coolest things I ever waited on line for five hours to see was the Tokyo Robot Show, where along with tens of thousands of cameraphone toting young Japanese I got to see the debut of Sony's Qrio and Honda's Asimo bipedal robots.
While perhaps not so glamorous as a robot that can walk around, play soccer, and dance, the latest robotic technology out of Japan is perhaps more practical. NEC corporation has developed a robotic sensing apparatus that is capable of analyzing wine samples accurately enough to determine the varietal and the place of origin. While this sort of technology isn't entirely new, the method used by this robot is somewhat unique. Unfortunately this thing isn't cool enough to slurp it up and then spit it out again, but it does use laser beams!
OK. Maybe they're only infrared LED beams. But that's still pretty cool, isn't it?
Anyhow, these LEDs reflect light off the wine sample and then spectrographic analysis is done on the reflected light to analyze the sample. The applications of this system, which can identify about thirty different variations in flavor profile, are limited given the hundreds of thousands of wines out there in the world. However, this technology proves the possibility of developing sensors to help with specific incidents of fraud that are more common in the wine world.
I'm sure Domaine Romanee Conti has already placed an order, or will shortly, as they seem to be a particular target for fraudulent bottles, given the astronomical prices they command at auction.
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