Saturday, 16 June 2007

Innovation Moos

Technology continues to surprise – not such the technology itself, but the ways in which innovative and enterprising humans discover new ways to use it. Someone in Australia (I think) has developed a prototype of a ‘virtual field’. Cattle are not fenced in (fencing is expensive to set up – and maintain). Each wears a GPS receiver. The farmer sets the co-ordinates for ‘the field’ (the area in which the cattle are allowed to wander) and when a cow gets within 5 meters of the invisible boundary, the device emits a hum which warns the cow. If the cow strays the 5 meters further they get a mild shock (as they would from a conventional electric fence). Research shows that within a few days – and presumably a few shocks – the cows learn to ‘back off’ when they hear the hum. Now, that’s innovation – the technology has been around for a while but someone has exploited it in a novel way!

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