EU funding for transformational AI-terahertz defect detection technology

07 September 2020

EU backs innovation enabling quality checks in real-time to ensure product compliance and reduce raw material waste; benefiting consumers and the environment.

TiHive, a vision systems provider for industrial IoT, has been awarded €8.6 million from the EIC Accelerator program – a European Innovation Council scheme within the framework of Horizon 2020 – for a compact imaging system based on terahertz light, combined with AI algorithms, for deployment in real-time quality control inspections.
The terahertz AI-aided imaging system is said to allow for smarter, non-invasive, detection of product defects during in-line production, when flaws can be fixed more inexpensively than if they are spotted after production is complete. 
TiHive will use the funds to bring its terahertz AI-aided imaging system to an industrial scale and help accelerate expansion in European and US markets. 
Commenting on the news, Hani Sherry, CEO and co-founder of TiHive, said: “This will be the very first deployment of terahertz imaging inspection technology at an industrial scale, opening the doors to numerous new market applications.”
TiHive has already won over customers with its detection capabilities. One specific use case is in monitoring the application of super-absorbent polymer (SAP) materials in diapers. SAP is the key ingredient in diapers; it enables them to absorb large amounts of liquid effectively. Manufacturers are eager to close the knowledge gap between how much SAP is deposited on each diaper and how it is distributed. With the most advanced production lines manufacturing up to 1,200 diapers a minute, if SAP is being overdosed, costs can add up quickly. If it is underdosed, then the product risks failing. Other anomalies, such as high humidity and the presence of contaminants, like oil, small pieces of metal and insects, can also be detected.
TiHive’s terahertz imaging system ‘sees-through’ products, similar to an x-ray machine, but its system provides fast imaging data, safely; whereas x-ray measurements pose dangers to operators and use a complex process that is not as effective. X-rays are not sensitive enough to be useful in many industries. In fabrics, plastics and other materials softer than metal, their wavelength penetrates too intensely to detect subtler contrasts. Unlike x-rays, TiHive’s system is modular;  users have the flexibility to combine any number of terahertz-vision cameras to cover larger surface areas.
“TiHive’s plug and play solution consists of integrated circuit-based technology and artificial intelligence algorithms. It includes a transmitter and receiver, which, when positioned either side of an object, reveal physical characteristics or quality indicators that have previously been impossible to measure,” said Clement Jany, CTO of TiHive.

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