An AI-Powered Insect Trap

Tackling the $220 Billion Pest Problem

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Advancements in AI are changing the way the world works across every industry. While we mostly read about the big tech companies building humanoid robots and self-driving cars, incredible new tech is getting rolled out in places you might not see on the front pages… like farming.

Pests destroy up to 40% of the world’s crops each year, which is an insane number to comprehend. Farmers work to tackle this issue in various ways, but recent AI advancements have made things easier.

Enter the Slovenian AI company Tapview.

They decided one of the best ways to help farmers would be to enable them to quickly and accurately detect which pests are making their way onto their crops. The earlier they can detect the pests, the faster they can act, and if the farmers know precisely which insects are present, they can be much more targeted in their approach to resolving the issue.

First, Tapview built the world’s largest database of pictures of insects. They used this data to train an AI model so that it can quickly identify any insect you present it with.

Then, they built a device that uses pheromones to attract pests. The insects are photographed by a small camera inside the traps, and the AI cross-references the images against the database.

It can now identify over 60 species with true precision, whether that’s the codling moth that afflicts apples or the cotton bollworm that damages tomatoes.

After the trap captures the image and identifies the pest, it gets even more impressive. These AI-driven traps use location and weather data to map the insect's likely impact and send the findings to the farmers.

The app can even calculate when and where the best place to use pesticides will be. This means farmers save money by reducing the use of chemical sprays, which is better for the environment, too.

Something that always strikes us about these AI companies is how small their teams are. Tapview currently employs 50 people. It won’t be long before we see our first billion-dollar AI company with just one employee. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll leave it to you to decide.

In 2022, the company said it had sold over 7,500 devices in more than 50 countries. Given AI’s booming popularity, it’s safe to assume that more farmers will be open to the idea of using this technology.

There are three key trends we identify in almost every story we cover for Subscribe to AI. First, AI will never be this bad again — it will only get better. The second is that, in general, it will only get more accessible too — both in terms of costs, tools and resources. And finally, as more and more people find out about AI and what it can do, more people will adopt the tools to use it, too.

When automation became a massive trend across industries over a decade ago, the USA became much more productive, and employees made more money. Elsewhere, in places like Europe, though, people used automation tools to simplify their lives. Instead of increasing their output, Europeans measurably kept a consistent output and freed up more time for their personal lives.

We’ll have to see how the world uses AI in the future to either focus on increasing output or freeing up their lives.

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