HIGH TECH A smarter way to sort garbage
anada leads the developed world in the production of garbage. Every citizen discards 720 kilos of waste annually—twice as much as the Japanese generate. Canada even tops the U.s.—the poster child for overconsumption—by seven percent.
Even worse than the sheer amount of waste produced, however, is how the country deals with it. Like many western societies, Canada ships much of its problematic garbage to poorer nations to bury. Although China had been the destination of choice, its recent ban on accepting foreign garbage has countries scrambling to find new places to send trash—with India and Pakistan at the top of the list.
For Pakistani-born Hassan Murad and Indian national Vivek Vyas, both grads of SFU, solving the waste crisis is personal.
After cofounding the startup Intuitive AI, the pair used their knowledge of artificial intelligence from internships at heavyweight companies like Tesla and International Submarine Engineering to come up with an innovative solution.
“When you walk up to a bin, you see four or five options to recycle,” Murad tells the Georgia Straight by phone during a break between investor meetings in Toronto. “You look at the labels, and they’re really confusing. One might show a coffee cup, but then the sticker on the product might say it’s compostable. And then you get more confused if there’s still liquid or something else inside. That’s why we created Oscar, an AI sensor that attaches to any bin.”
Named after trash-loving Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch, the technology uses a camera and ultrasonic sensor to see a person approaching a trash can. Intuitive AI’S algorithm then focuses on the items they have in their hand, predicts with very high accuracy what the piece of garbage is, and tells the person via a small screen the correct section of the bin to put it in. The system is sophisticated enough to determine the component parts of each item—so, in the case of a coffee cup, Oscar nudges an individual
February 18–March 20
The moon in Pisces makes for a smooth go of it Thursday through Saturday. Let the creative muses play or simply let the day run on its own. Saturday night through Monday, you’ll be ready for more action. To Wednesday, go at your own pace but aim to get your shopping done to avoid the lastminute crunch.