watermelons watermelons What's inside that watermelon? Juicy sweetness, or hollow bitterness? (Photo: NattapolStudiO/Shutterstock)

Never buy a bitter watermelon again

University students invent a sensor that picks the perfect melon.

Who doesn't love watermelon? It's one of the greatest gifts of the summer harvest. It's like a big, round, juicy party for your tastebuds.

Except when it's not. Sometimes you can't tell how ripe a watermelon will be until you slice it open – and then, the disappointment ensues. It's mostly hollow, devoid of flavor and moisture. There's the "hit test" your mom taught you long ago, where you give the melon a smack and listen for that hollow sound – but you don't have the heart to break it to Mom that it doesn't always work.

Well, here's the good news. Three clearly thirsty students at Israel's Technion Institute were facing that exact predicament (so weird, right?) and decided they've had enough. They put their engineering training to good use and came up with a high-tech solution: a sensor, which attaches to an app via Bluetooth, that determines the taste and quality of a watermelon before it's cut open.

How does it work? The device's developers – Technion computer science majors Salah Abd Alhalem, Adam Garah and Ayman Sarha’an – found that despite previous agricultural research, there is indeed a correlation between a watermelon's internal and external appearance. This discovery is the backbone of their invention. The device takes three pictures of the melon at different angles, after which point an algorithm analyzes it from the outside. Then, a taste rating is assigned – 1 being the lowest level of ripeness ("atrocious") and 5 being the best (“divine”).

And if you're wondering whether it actually works, wonder no longer. The students said they used the device on 30 watermelons and came up with a 100% accuracy rating. Furthermore, they think it can be used to determine the ripeness of other types of fruit.

The device is currently in the prototype stage and is not yet available. So while we anxiously await its debut, here's a video full of tips on how to pick the perfect watermelon (the "hit test" is only part of the story!).


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