As one of the most pungent, intimidating-looking fruits in the world, the durian cannot go unnoticed, especially by Malaysians. But true enthusiasts know that not all durians are built the same on the inside even if they look roughly the same on the outside.
Jake knows this best. Yes, most Malaysians can talk about how much they love durian, but how many of them can actually confidently say, “That’s a Musang King!” or “That’s a D24!” just by looking at one?
Even so, not everyone has the time to actually learn how to identify and differentiate durian varieties from one another. Hence, the Musang King app says fret not, they’re here to do the job for you instead.
Bringing The Farmer’s Eye To The AI
“The Musang King app is intended to empower all durian lovers,” shared Jake Thui, part of the founding team of the app. “All of us who enjoy durians have definitely encountered situations where we are unsure of the durian variety in front of us. Most times it is because we are unfamiliar with the identifying characteristics of the varieties we like.”
Hence, the Musang King app was born to simplify the durian-buying experience for durian-lovers, whereby you can snap a photo of the durian and learn about which variety it is in just a few seconds.
This project was started in 2019 by several durian lovers who came from computer science and finance backgrounds, plus academics who have done research on the Malaysian fruit industry.
As of now, the app is able to recognise 6 durian varieties so far, which are the Musang King (D197), Sultan (D24), Golden Phoenix (D198), Golden Bun (D13), Red Flesh (D101), and Darling (D88), but the team is continuously working on expanding their recognition library.
Inside The App
Situations where users would use this app would be when they are at a durian farm or stall, and would like to identify the variety of the durians. Identification aside, the app is also meant for users to locate trusted durian stalls in the country.
“We want to curb ‘fake Musang King’ durians being sold irresponsibly to innocent buyers, since most consumers find it hard to recognise high-quality durians. Moreover, locating pop-up durian stalls by the road is hard. Consumers either find good stalls by chance or through word-of-mouth,” Jake explained.
The app is free for any users to download, whereas durian sellers would have to pay a small fee if they wanted to list themselves on the app’s map. Like on any other e-commerce app, these offline sellers would benefit from this listing via having an online presence.
Should the app work as intended, this feature will be able to increase their stall’s visibility to their users nearby, as their users are more likely to use the app to locate durian sellers close to them.
Jake shared that there’s also a commercial version of the app for industrial use, which is another way the team is monetising.
How The App Works
While not everyone has a durian farmer’s eye to tell a variety apart from another, do durians even have characteristics on the outside that are distinct enough to differentiate?
To most consumers, all durian varieties look almost identical, but to a durian planter, the overall shape of the fruit, the shape of the thorns, and patterns on the fruit like the base make a huge difference, Jake added.
For example, one can tell apart a D24 from a Musang King by the former’s thinner thorns that are denser in volume. At the same time, a D24’s seam at the bottom is round, its crown area is not as smooth, and its stem is shorter and fatter. These are characteristics that the app uses to tell the varieties apart.
“You do not have to kopek open the durian, just good snapshots of the unopened fruit with your phone camera will be able to do the job!” Jake explained.
As of now, their main challenge is getting more users onboard outside of the durian season, as well as more sellers to list on their map. But first, their ongoing plan right now is to include more durian varieties under their identification.
While there are many varieties of durian in Malaysia that have yet to be explored by the app, it already covers 5 out of 10 of the popular durian varieties in Malaysia, according to Hernan, a local durian products manufacturer. It’s a good start as most stalls tend to sell a few of these varieties and customers tend to go for these too.
- You can learn more about the Musang King app here.
- You can read about more apps we’ve written on here.
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Featured Image Credit: Musang King App