HIGH TECH A smarter way to sort garbage

The Georgia Straight - - High Tech - By

CKate Wil­son

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.

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