Due to the increasing consumption of food products and demand for food quality and safety, most food processing facilities in the United States utilize machines to automate their processes, such as cleaning, inspection and grading, packing, storing, and shipping. Machine vision technology has been a proven solution for inspection and grading of food products since the late 1980s. The remaining challenges, especially for small to midsize facilities, include the system and operating costs, demand for high-skilled workers for complicated configuration and operation and, in some cases, unsatisfactory results. This paper focuses on the development of an embedded solution with learning capability to alleviate these challenges. Three simple application cases are included to demonstrate the operation of this unique solution. Two datasets of more challenging cases were created to analyze and demonstrate the performance of our visual inspection algorithm. One dataset includes infrared images of Medjool dates of four levels of skin delamination for surface quality grading. The other one consists of grayscale images of oysters with varying shape for shape quality evaluation. Our algorithm achieved a grading accuracy of 95.0% on the date dataset and 98.6% on the oyster dataset, both easily surpassed manual grading, which constantly faces the challenges of human fatigue or other distractions. Details of the design and functions of our smart camera and our simple visual inspection algorithm are discussed in this paper.
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