INL and Sogrape share a patent for sensors to monitor grape ripeness, an action that follows a partnership that began in 2015. This partnership and work explore opportunities for emerging technologies, such as microelectronics and nanotechnology, for the wine sector.
Without needing vineyard samples or laboratory analysis, the sensor analyses the light that is reemitted by the grape tissue, which varies according to the levels of sugars and organic acids in the grape. During ripening, the sugar content increases and the organic acid content decreases.
The innovation of the design lies in the way the sensors are attached to the bunch of grapes and the ability to analyse several berries in the bunch at the same time, which gives a representative view of the variation that exists within each bunch, between bunches and between vines in the same vineyard, giving the wine-grower and winemaker an accurate picture of how ripening occurs in each location, in real-time.
The simplicity of the registered concept and the use of precision optoelectronic micro-components in its construction allows the prospect of commercialisation at affordable prices when it becomes mass-produced. The patent has been registered in the European Union, United Kingdom, USA, South Africa, China and Australia and awaits registration in New Zealand and Chile.
Since revealing its purpose, INL — Internationational Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory has been working hard to fulfil its promise of becoming a world reference for nanotechnology. “With this patent sharing agreement, the result of 5 years of joint work between INL and Sogrape, we pave the way for a more consolidated intellectual property exploitation plan and bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to the vineyards – the real in situ “sensing”,” states Prof. Paulo Freitas, Acting General Manager of INL.
Sogrape’s R&D department has promoted long-lasting partnerships for several years to bring scientific excellence to the development and progress of the wine sector. According to António Graça, “this patent arose from a challenge we pitched to INL based on a dream of having a more accurate and real vision of grape ripening“. “INL researchers responded to the challenge by interacting with us periodically and frequently. Naturally, there were moments of appreciation for our wines that helped explain what words could not. And, thus, the invention was born“, Sogrape’s Head of R&D said.