Editor’s Blog – Heads or tails – a farmyard tale for happy animals
Assisted reality wearable headsets and AR visors are commonplace in warehousing, gaming and commerce environments but now they can be seen down on the farm, says Caroline Hayes
Visiting a farm can be fun but when it is a business proposition, it can involve both time and expense. DanBred, a Danish pig breeding company, wanted to reduce its carbon emission and meet biosecurity requirements in the inspection of pig herds. It worked with RealWear for employees and customers to wear its assisted reality wearables to conduct remote inspections of pig herds to reduce the amount of travel time to perform the inspection. The remote inspections also contributed to lowering carbon emissions and saved several days normally needed for quarantine time to ensure biosecurity from bacteria or viruses introduced by employees or visitors which can harm the herd. In all, estimates, DanBred, employees saved between 12 and 48 hours per farm visit.
The company looked at wearable devices that can provide virtual farm visits and consulted RealWear partner, Innomize,, a Danish specialist in service solutions to tailor the RealWear’s HMT-1 head-mounted devices, running Wideum’s Remote eye guidance software, a hands-free, cloud-based, screen sharing platform. The dust resistant and hands-free rugged design of RealWear HMT-1, coupled with active noise cancellation microphones, were influences on the choice of device, reports DanBred. In addition the devices are easy to clean and device straps can be changed every time the device is worn, which is a very important for hygiene purposes.
DanBred bought RealWear HMT-1 head-mounted devices for its subsidiaries and partners for use by key account customers on their farms.
This little piggy went to VR: The DanBred remote inspection system uses RealWear HMT-1 devices.
Customers can look at livestock virtually and in real time for DanBred to evaluate the livestock for claims processing or technical support, without the need to schedule a visit and allow for travel time.
Søren S. Thuesen, head of solutions and supply management at DanBred, says, “If there’s an issue in a stable, DanBred can be there straight away without the need to travel, which saves a considerable amount of time. This helps us be more agile from that perspective, while assuring our customers that we can come to their aid very quickly.”
The company also equips a team of technical services and solutions managers with the headgear to train customers remotely.
VR for the barnyard
Headsets are not just for humans in farm settings. Some farmers are putting VR headsets onto cattle to reduce stress and to increase milk production.
Farmers in Russi and in Turkey, have fitted VR headsets to cattle to soothe them. In Turkey, two cows out of a herd of 180 were fitted with VR headsets showing images of green pastures while soothing classical music was piped into the cowshed. The milk yield of these two cows increased from 22 to 27 litres.
The VR headsets have their own development programme for graphics. Studies have shown that cows perceive reddish tones better than greens and blues, so the field simulation programme has been created to optimise a realistic green pasture to soothe and relax the cattle.
An adapted VR headset could be used for caged chickens, suggests Austin Steward, a design professor at Iowa State University. The chickens could be tricked into believing they are free-range hens to make them less stressed, more relaxed. There are countless why did the chicken cross the road gags here, I am sure but I will leave that to the reader’s imagination!