Dell's Magic Connected Dairy Cow

What Happens if You Strap a Fitbit on a Cow?

Can strapping a fitbit on a cow make that animal healthier? For that matter, can it make the dairy industry and perhaps even the planet healthier? Artificial intelligence and new tech for connecting cows to the web are dangling this possibility before us.

Monitoring Health and Activity

Sensor tags and collars for cows are not entirely new. What’s changing rapidly, though, is the sheer volume of data and artificial intelligence to make sense of it. Connecterra, for example, is using a Google AI toolbox to crunch massive volumes of data from a dairy herd.

From sensor data, Connecterra’s Ida system can keep tabs on exactly what a cow is doing and how it’s feeling all day long. Is the cow walking, standing, lying down, eating, chewing, drinking, or idling? From behaviors and biometrics come insight into health and productivity.

More Efficiency and Less Environmental Impact

All this matters for some very simple reasons. It’s a tool for getting more milk from fewer, healthier cows. That means better profits for the farmer and less impact on the planet. When farmers can spot signs of illness early, they can use fewer antibiotics. Diseases won’t spread as much or affect as many cows.

Techno Skeptics

Though the momentum seems clear, you will find some skeptics. Do you really need to strap a Fitbit on a cow? Or would simply keeping an eye on your herd do the trick? A fourth-generation dairy farmer, Mark Rodgers told the Washington Post he prefers the simpler approach:

I can spot a cow across a room that don’t feel great just by looking in her eyes. The good Lord said, “This is what you can do.” I can’t draw, paint or anything else, but I can watch cows.”

He may have a point. But you might not want to bet against precision dairy farming, aided by artificial intelligence. The Fitbit on a cow will surely evolve, but we doubt it’s going away.

Click here and here for more about these bovine variations on a Fitbit. Note that Fitbit is a trademark of Fitbit Inc., which sells its products just for humans.

Dell’s Magic Dairy Cow, image © VMware and Dell Technologies via YouTube

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April 20, 2018