The story of the connected cow at Build 2015


One of the more interesting, and entertaining stories we learned during the second day of Build 2015, was the story of the connected cow. What can possibly be leading edge about cows? Quite a bit.

In fact, a farm has all the hallmarks of any business, overhead, productivity, and stock. Indeed, a farm is a perfect platform to a connected company and a great use-case for the “Internet of Things.”

Fujitsu teamed with local farmers in Japan in an effort to better identify when a cow would enter estrus (ready to mate) to have a better success rate of impregnation using artificial insemination. As it is, breeding cows can be a bit tricky. The window for success is quite narrow, about 16 hours every 21 days. For a farmer handling hundreds or thousands of head of cattle, it is extremely difficult to manually determine when a cow is ready to…well, you know.

Fujitsu created cow pedometers which were connected to the internet, and whose telemetry was analyzed by apps running on Microsoft Azure. When cows go into heat, they begin pacing a lot more. The pedometers would register the movement and as a result, the farmer would receive an alert from the app about which cow was in heat, and when the activity started. The farmer could then artificially inseminate the cow. As it happens, cows typically go into estrus more often in the evening and early morning hours, who knew?

The results were exponential. Spotting a cow in heat went from being less than 40% accurate to over 95%, and successful pregnancies jumped from the low 30th-percentile to over 65%. So much data was gathered among the participating farmers that they discovered a 4 hour window on either side of the optimal point of estrus that could influence the gender of the calves. Insemination made on the early side of the window, and it was a better chance of a female calf. On the latter side, the farmer had a better chance of a male.

Fujitsu was also able to spot health problems among cows with the pedometers too, and identified eight different diseases by monitoring the walking patterns of the herd.

Given how we are taking to wearable technology rather well, imagine where it can take people. We may not need an app to tell our significant other when we are…ready, but we already have apps to tell us when it is the best time to the mood.

Microsoft has not posted that part of the Keynote yet, but this presentation also given by Corporate Vice President - Information Management & Machine Learning, Joseph Sirosh, a couple months ago is exactly what was discussed during the Windows 10 segment at today's Keynote:

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photos: International Business Times

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