Sharp, known for its televisions, actually has its origins in mechanical pencils. Its future may rest on a business distant from either of those: growing strawberries in the deserts of Dubai.
The struggling consumer-electronics company announced on Sept. 20 plans to ramp up an experiment it started in July, in which berries are grown in a hermetically sealed farm lit with Sharp’s power-efficient LED lights. Sensors made by Sharp track temperature and humidity, and the company’s Plasmacluster air-purification system, which it markets to consumers, helps protect the fruit by killing germs, bacteria, and mold. Dubai is a logical home for the project, because Japanese strawberries are popular in the Middle East, expensive, and quick to spoil. Sharp says it will collect data on how well its cultivation techniques work to “achieve stable production of high-quality strawberries.”