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Internet of everything: pigs, cows and football

o Chee-Sing Chan
10.06.2014 kl 00:09 | Computerworld Hong Kong

What can be connected will be connected. This seems to be the modern mission with all technologists today.


What can be connected will be connected. This seems to be the modern mission with all technologists today.

Pigs might fly is the oft-spouted reply when faced with an absurd proposition or a highly unlikely scenario. But pigs and cows connected to the web? Nothing unlikely there.

The Internet of everything truly is upon us, which would have John Chambers at Cisco beaming with some degree of smugness.

The prospect of things both living and inanimate being connected through sensors, chips and wireless networks is no longer fantasy.

Recently, two pioneering companies in sensors and IoT technologies General Alert (GA) and 1248, have embarked on collecting real-time data from pigs, poultry and other livestock in the UK to provide early warning of transmitted diseases.

The Internet of pigs is all set to fly as sensors are tracking multiple factors to monitor livestock health, behavior and imminent signs of diseases such as foot-and-mouth.

Real-time data will include temperature, drinking water flow, animal feed rate, humidity, CO2 concentration, ammonia and pH readings which will be gathered via in-vivo RFID (in-body) and temperature tags planted in pigs, effectively turning a pig into a 'thing' on the Internet of Things.

Moo on heat

Cows have also joined the web of connected livestock with WiFi-connected collars and artificial intelligence software being deployed In an effort to monitor when cows are 'on heat'.

The objective here is to maximize the potential to impregnate cows and ultimately boost milk production.

According to the report by the Singularity, missing a cycle means lost sales of about 5 gallons of milk a day, costing about $315 per cycle. And since nearly all cows are artificially inseminated, failed attempts to impregnate a cow also come with a price tag.

Yet "heat" can be difficult to detect and farmers grumble that sometimes those precious optimal hours occur in the middle of the night.

The data allows farmers to ensure their herd is as healthy as possible in order to maximize the amount of milk being produced. It also helps identify any sick animals as early as possible.

While cows are getting plenty of action, football fans around the world can also get into the IoT act as they prepare for world cup fever.

In a move to help aspiring sharpshooters, Adidas has just launched its miCoach Smart Ball along with iPhone app that promises to turn your tame free-kicks, penalties and wayward long-range passes into the very best that Ronaldo and Gerrard can muster.

Packed with sensors and Bluetooth technology, the ball tracks the point of impact from every kick and measures spin, speed and maps the ball's flightpath. The idea is to help players train their dead-ball skills and optimize ball-striking ability.

See the smart ball in action via the below video at the end of this blog.

Beware the hacks

What this is all leading to is the question over what can't be connected to this imminent web of IoT-enabled devices, objects, animals and plants? Clearly humans fall into the category of soon-to-be-tagged "things" on the Internet as the value proposition around healthcare and other similar scenarios is hard to ignore.

But with there must be some concern that maybe not all things need to be connected? Dick Cheney had his pacemaker's wireless capability disabled when it was discovered that it could be hacked via vulnerabilities in its software.

Already the security hawks will all be harping from their perch on the dangers on this multiconnected threat nightmare and in some cases those calls will be valid.

But more connectivity is inevitable, the question is where to draw the line? Does Mr Cheney completely ditch the idea of connected pacemaker relaying valuable real-time data to his doctor? Or maybe he simply waits for it to be properly patched and secured before embarking on this IoT-enabled new era of healthcare?

This debate has just begun but it already feels like very familiar and well-trodden ground.

Keywords: Networking  
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