A real game-changer for dairy cow health - Veterinary Practice
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A real game-changer for dairy cow health

SmARtview research project combines farmers’ and vet’s experienced eyes with real-time data

Dairy farmers and vets have
enlisted the help of video gaming experts to enhance cow health in a unique new

The Innovate UK-funded SmARtview research project
sees Agri-EPI Centre and UK Veterinary Group VetPartners join forces with
experts at award-winning games developer Pocket Sized Hands and Abertay
University’s School of Design and Informatics

The project aims to develop an
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that can recognise a cow by its skin
patterns and use a “hololens” Augmented Reality (AR) headset to display health
and productivity data about an animal as a user views it.

Agri-EPI’s innovative South West
Dairy Development Centre is the project test-bed.

Agri-EPI Head of Dairy Duncan
Forbes explained: “By using the type of technology that is becoming extremely
advanced in the video gaming world, we hope to be able to take the care and
treatment of dairy cattle into a new era.

“The beauty of this project is that
it combines farmers’ and vet’s experienced ‘eyes’ with real-time data:
technology is being used to enhance, rather than replace, human skills. In
addition, SmAtview could provide a solution to one of the key challenges of
on-farm technology – while different devices like robotic milkers, sensors and
collars can already collect plentiful data, its lack of integration limits
insight to drive decision-making.”

Typically, a vet or farmer faces
the time-consuming process of examining a cow then going to the farm office to
review a variety of paper of PC-based records before determining what kind of
intervention may be needed. SmARtview would make the whole process much more
efficient and effective.

The new system will be trialled by
vets and allied professional from VetPartners’ practices around the UK. Rachel
Dean, VetPartners’ Director of Clinical Research
and Excellence in Practice said: “The farming industry is changing and
VetPartners wants to support farmers through this change by offering the best
capabilities in terms of health, production and welfare. SmARtview has
huge potential for vets and allied professionals, such as foot trimmers and
veterinary technicians, who work on farms of all types and sizes. It is a
unique and very innovative project which could transform the way they

Abertay is a world
leader in applying games technology to the business, education and healthcare
sectors and the University is ranked number one in Europe for videogames

Pocket Sized Hands
and Abertay University’s School of Design and Informatics are bringing
world-leading expertise to the project. Abertay’s Professor Ruth Falconer explained that the first challenge
is to develop the AI technology capable of recognising an individual animal.

She said: “Our aim is to put new
technology to best use in order to solve problems in the real world. This
project brings together our research areas of AI, User Experience and games
technology. We aim to develop ‘marker-less’ technology which can achieve the
difficult task of recognising a cow by the patterning of its skin and shape in
an environment where it is likely to be dirty and the light and weather
conditions change frequently.”

When the
researchers have cracked the challenge of cow-recognition, Pocket Sized Hands
(PSH) will lead the prototype AR development and lend their expertise to the
User Experience (UX) aspect of the technology. Their skills with ensure the
augmented reality display of data is presented to the user in an engaging way.

PSH Chief Executive
Gary McCartan explained: “It’s really exciting to be applying technology we
normally use in game development to the world of farming. AR combines the real
world with digital assets – information that is usually tied to a screen can
now be viewed in the real world. Use of the technology is in its early stages.
For example, current headsets are quite bulky which would not be practical in a
farm situation. We will be looking at ways to allow cow data to be easily
accessed and understood.”

The initiation of this
project was supported by video games cluster InGAME.

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