23-year-old NTU Engineering student Toh Wen Qi was tasked with what seemed like an impossible task during her apprenticeship at a Deep Tech startup earlier this year: To determine the sweetness of a tomato without destroying it.
For weeks, the team she was attached to handled tomatoes of various sizes, squeezed them, juiced them, and even put them through a garlic press.
There has been some research done on this involving hyperspectral infrared imaging. So the team built a multispectral imaging system which uses near-infrared LED lights.
But no matter what they did, they could not get the LED bulbs to light up. Frustrated, the team kept ramping up the power supply until it finally glowed bright red for a split second before it exploded.
“That’s how we figured that we shouldn’t expect to see near-infrared wavelengths with our eyes,” says Toh.