Home » Could this wearable for COWS improve the world’s food systems? New device tracks health markers

Could this wearable for COWS improve the world’s food systems? New device tracks health markers

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Could this wearable for COWS improve the world’s food systems? Scientists build device to track health, location and environmental effects to prevent diseases and improve efficiency

  • Scientists built a smart device for cows that can track their vital signs as they roam around grazing on grass 
  • The unique device is actually powered by the animals’ kinetic energy from their smallest movements 
  • ‘Monitoring environmental and health information of cattle can help prevent diseases and improve the efficiency of pasture breeding and management’
  • Researchers are hopeful that this type of technology can be part of a larger effort to improve foods systems globally

Farms in the future may feature cows outfitted with smart devices that track their movements, monitor their health vitals and look out for signs of disease – to improve the end product for consumers. 

Although devices to monitor the health of each cow or keep them within certain areas already exists, these technologies depend on chemical batteries. 

Scientists in China designed a wearable device for cows that captures the kinetic energy created by all of their movements, including the small ones, to power itself. 

The team’s smart ranch design involves cows wearing tiny devices around their ankles and necks – equipped with sensors – that are powered by everything cows do as they go about their regular ranch activities to feed on grass and walk about. 

Farms in the future may feature cows outfitted with smart devices that track their movements, monitor their health vitals and look out for signs of disease

The team’s smart ranch design involves cows wearing tiny devices around their ankles and necks - equipped with sensors - that are powered by everything cows do as they go about their regular ranch activities. ABOVE: A depiction of what a future farm may look like

The team’s smart ranch design involves cows wearing tiny devices around their ankles and necks – equipped with sensors – that are powered by everything cows do as they go about their regular ranch activities. ABOVE: A depiction of what a future farm may look like

‘There is a tremendous amount of kinetic energy that can be harvested in cattle’s daily movements, such as walking, running, and even neck movement,’ said co-author Yajia Pan, also an energy researcher at Southwest Jiaotong University.

That energy is stored in a lithium battery and used to power the device.

‘Our kinetic energy harvester specially harvests the kinetic energy of weak motion,’ said co-author Zutao Zhang, an energy researcher at Southwest Jiaotong University in China. 

The team’s design for the wearable is different from others because it contains a motion enhancement mechanism that uses magnets and a pendulum to amplify small movements the cows make.

‘On a ranch, monitoring environmental and health information of cattle can help prevent diseases and improve the efficiency of pasture breeding and management,’ said Zhang. 

‘This information can include oxygen concentration, air temperature and humidity, amount of exercise, reproductive cycles, disease, and milk production,’ he added. 

The researchers are hopeful that this type of technology can be part of a larger effort to improve foods systems globally. 

‘With the development of 5G technology and the Internet of Things, the operation of the entire industrial chain of the food system is more intelligent and transparent,’ he said.

Zhang and his colleagues also tested the devices on humans and found that a light jog was enough to power temperature measurement in the device. 

The researchers see future applications in sports monitoring, healthcare, smart home, and the construction of human wireless sensor networks.

‘Kinetic energy is everywhere in the environment—leaves swaying in the wind, the movement of people and animals, the undulation of waves, the rotation of the earth—these phenomena all contain a lot of kinetic energy,’ said Zhang. ‘We shouldn’t let this energy go to waste.’

'With the development of 5G technology and the Internet of Things, the operation of the entire industrial chain of the food system is more intelligent and transparent,' he says

‘With the development of 5G technology and the Internet of Things, the operation of the entire industrial chain of the food system is more intelligent and transparent,’ he says

The researchers are hopeful that this type of technology can be part of a larger effort to improve foods systems globally

The researchers are hopeful that this type of technology can be part of a larger effort to improve foods systems globally

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