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With growing cow herds, farmers can easily track individual cow behavior with this technology
CowView alerts farmers to specific cow behavior patterns including how long they lie down, how many hours they sleep, and when they are ready to milk.
Once upon a time, a farmer was able to easily monitor each of its cows and give them individual attention when needed. Now, as cattle herds grow larger to meet food demands, farmers find it harder to give each cow the attention and care it needs. With CowView, a technological solution that enables farmers to monitor individual cow behavior, every cow in the herd can get the attention it needs.
CowView allows farmers to track the health of each cow and alerts them to specific behavior patterns including how long they lie down, how many hours they sleep, and when they are ready to milk. A tag that is placed around a cow’s neck transmits data to an application that can be accessed on a PC, tablet, or smartphone. With this application, a cow can be tracked within 30 seconds.
CowView makes it possible for farmers to manage a smaller workforce and save time and money. GEA Farm Technologies, the company that created the technology, is working to improve it so that more behaviors can be tracked in cows, according to Jill Stelfox, Vice President of Zebra Location Solutions, which has partnered with GEA Technologies.
CowView is currently used in farms in Denmark, Germany, and the U.K. and will soon be introduced to farms in the United States. Although this technology doesn’t work for other animals, Stelfox says a similar technology will be designed for pigs next.
How do small farms contribute to food and nutrition security? Linking European small farms, strategies and outcomes in territorial food systems
Small farms actively integrate within local, regional and global food systems.
Cases illustrate small farm-households roles in food and nutrition security outcomes.
The regional level is the enabling context where farms can play their diversity.
Policies must shape regional food systems to support small farms functions.
Historical Brewing Techniques: Part 2
In the first part of this series, I conducted an interview with Lars Marius Garshol, author of Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing and the blog Larsblog. Read on for my review of Historical Brewing Techniques and some thoughts it brought up regarding this completely “new” ancient style of brewing.
While Historical Brewing Techniques covers a lot of the same territory as Larsblog, this is by no means a bad thing. Not only is Garshol’s research now in convenient bound form (it’s a sturdy 400-page tome with nice glossy pages for the inevitable beer spillage), but the information from his blog is greatly expanded on. I recommend enjoying it like I did, on the back porch with a beer or three. For my first read-through I made some notes on pages I wanted to come back to when I was ready to start applying the wealth of knowledge contained within, but mostly I just enjoyed the narrative. Even those with little interest in the subject matter can appreciate the book for its engaging combination of travelogue, history, folklore, and fascinating data-driven research. Garshol has uncovered a vibrant brewing and drinking culture that has quietly continued in far corners of Europe (and some not so far corners) while modern, commercial brewing grew to monolithic proportions in much of the world.
Much of what goes on in the craft brewing and homebrewing worlds, even with so-called “farmhouse” styles, relies on tools, techniques and temperatures that are considered irrefutably crucial in creating good beer. (There are definitely some exceptions, though.) Garshol makes it abundantly clear that much of this dogma is antithetical to how people brewed in the days when nearly every household brewed their own beer from start to finish. As a matter of fact, he goes so far as to say that modern commercial brewing and rustic farmhouse brewing should really be thought of as completely separate categories, as they have “evolved separately, drifting apart over many centuries .”
Beers brewed by the methods outlined in this book employ vastly different processes and ingredients than commercial beers, and can thus can differ greatly in flavor. If you’re a brewer who is a stickler for the “absolutely necessary” specifics that have been hammered in throughout the modern brewing literature, you’ll need to take a deep breath before delving in. Following is just a sample of the brewing heresies that Garshol discovered farmhouse brewers regularly commit:
A different outlook on cleanliness. Farmhouse breweries can be a far cry from modern, super clean and sanitary commercial (and home) breweries. With many literally being on farms and often using wood as a heating source, the brewing area can often be dank, dusty, and sooty. Except for those who have started incorporating modern brewing into their practices, sanitation with modern chemicals just doesn’t happen. This doesn’t mean that they’re not very aware of possible beer spoilage. Cleaning equipment is an important part of the brew day as with any other brewer they just employ very different methods. For some brewers, one of the first steps in a brew day is to make up a juniper infusion by boiling juniper branches in water. This infusion is often used as the strike water for drawing out sugars from the mash, but it is also used to clean equipment. While they are very careful about cleaning, farmhouse brewers historically didn’t actually know for sure what kept beer from going bad, so they developed rituals and superstitions that they were sure to follow extremely carefully with every batch. If nearly every beer they made turned out good following these steps, and it worked for their father, mother, grandfather or grandmother (and their ancestors), then it must work.
Preparing a juniper infusion. Photo courtesy of Lars Marius Garshol, from Brewing raw ale in Hornindal.
The wort often isn’t boiled. One of the most fascinating aspects of farmhouse brewing, and one of the core elements that enables such unique flavors, is the concept of raw ale. As a brewer who adhered closely to modern brewing “necessities” when I first read of raw ales, I had a hard time believing that you didn’t need to boil wort when brewing beer. But if you think of the reasons we boil wort when brewing, and look at it historically, this makes perfect sense. For one, we get all of those bitter and aromatic flavors from hops in modern beers such as IPAs through a process called isomerization. Without the proper equipment, and a consistent source of high heat, boiling wort for 60 minutes or more just wasn’t possible historically. While many farmhouse brewers do use hops, they’re not used the same way as in modern beers. They understand their antibacterial properties, but most don’t use them for flavoring. If hops are used, they’re made into a hop tea that is added to the wort while lautering, or even to-taste when drinking. Juniper and various other herbs are known to have antibacterial properties, and were often used instead of, or along with, hops. As Garshol notes, though, there is a broad spectrum as to how these ingredients are used and whether there is no boil, a short boil, or a long boil (of the wort, that is boiling the mash is also a technique some brewers use).
A mug of raw ale. Photo courtesy of Lars Marius Garshol, from Raw Ale.
A general lack of temperature monitoring and precise measurements. For many of the brewers Garshol interviewed, he was surprised to find that thermometers were rarely used and that they just eyeballed ingredient measurements. In modern brewing, if we want to achieve a particular flavor, alcohol level, and other factors that make for a specific style, it is important to be precise. Most farmhouse brewers aren’t brewing a “style,” they’re just brewing the same type of beer that they were taught to brew by the previous generation. Although there may be nuanced differences between batches, they pretty much make the same beer every time. Because of this, they can judge the proper temperature and ingredient amounts just by look, feel and taste. Some of the brewers Garshol interviewed were perplexed as to why anyone would want to take precise measurements, while others were almost mocking of the modern brewing world’s obsession with precision.
Terje Raftevold brewing by instinct and tradition in Hornindal, Norway. Photo courtesy of Lars Marius Garshol from Brewing raw ale in Hornindal.
The yeast oh, the yeast… An entire book could be written on the yeast used in farmhouse brewing and how it is utterly different from how pretty much any other modern yeast works. Garshol dedicates a good portion of his book to discussing farmhouse yeast, although he admits that there is much more to explore. His discussion on yeast focuses heavily on the current darling of the brewing world, kveik, but he discusses other yeasts as well. Kveik itself, which simply means “yeast” in some Norwegian dialects, has many variants. Other words used for yeast include gjest(er), gjaer and berm. And then there are the words used in Sweden, Denmark, the Baltics, and other countries. Since each region—even individual farmhouses—had their own unique yeast, there are a plethora of nuances in yeast behavior. Garshol feels he has only touched the tip of the iceberg, but he still covers an impressive amount of ground. If we just consider kveik, some of the ways in which its behavior differs from modern yeast include pitching temperature (often 90 degrees F / 32 C or higher) fast fermentation (full attenuation in as little as 48 hours) viability (many strains have been saved and re-used with little-to-no bacterial infection in non-sanitary conditions for generations—people generations, not just yeast generations) and unique flavors (many contribute citrusy, tropical flavors). The saved yeast isn’t subjected to anything resembling laboratory analysis, and is stored by methods such as refrigerating slurry in glass jars, setting it out to dry and then saving the dried chips in plastic baggies, or even dropping a yeast log, yeast ring or cloth into actively fermenting beer, which is then simply left in a rafter or some other “unsanitary” place to dry until the next use.
Terje Raftevold harvesting kveik after 40 hours. Photo courtesy of Lars Marius Garshol from How to use kveik.
I could go on and on about the many other fascinating aspects of this book, but you’ll just need to read it yourself. In addition to some solid technical how-to and recipes, we’ve got history, folklore, superstitions, yeast-waking screams, oven beers, and some rather interesting malting practices. If you don’t believe me when I say just how unique this book is, how many other brewing books are out there that list as part of a recipe to scream loudly or say the name of every angry dog in the neighborhood? I warrant you there aren’t many…
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CowView Enables Farmers to Monitor Individual Cow Behavior - Recipes
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Beyond the work Livestock Labs is doing with Rood, Cannon says, other research trials are in the works with Charles Sturt University and the University of New England, both in Australia, as well as trials with some commercial farmers he won’t name. He hopes EmbediVet will be available in a public beta test next March.
“We stumbled onto something that was a lot bigger and more in demand than we thought, in this particular sector of the world,” Cannon says.
Ryan Reuter, an associate professor of animal science at Oklahoma State University who studies beef cattle, thinks the tracker could be quite useful. He cautions, however, that there are a lot of factors to consider with its design. For instance, cows are big and strong and like to rub on things (such as that aforementioned back scratcher), so anything implanted in them needs to be rugged enough to hold up to abuse. It also needs to stay in place, he says, especially with animals being raised to be eaten.
“That would be important in food animals, so you make sure that you put the implant somewhere that it has no chance of ending up in a food product for humans,” he says.
There’s also the issue of pricing, since margins in dairy and beef cattle production are slim. The components of EmbediVet cost $20 right now, Cannon says, but it’s not clear what the eventual price will be Reuter says that somewhere in the range of $10 or $20 a cow would get beef or dairy farmers interested.
Back to you, humans?
These days, Cannon splits his time between Pittsburgh and Sydney. Livestock Labs has $2 million in early funding from Australia’s livestock industry group, Meat & Livestock Australia (which is also a GrowLab partner), and additional funds from individual investors in the US.
For now, he’s concentrating on making sure that the implants aren’t causing any unintended consequences with the cyborg bovines.
“They are developing a slight urge to destroy humanity,” he jokes, “but we’re monitoring it.”
Joking aside, Cannon is serious about one goal that’s far beyond anything his startup may do to help farmers and their livestock. He says he also hopes the company gets people more comfortable with the idea of bodily implants in general. He is adamant that one day he will return to offering sensors to people—though he’s not sure if it will be a totally new company or a “human line” from Livestock Labs.
The second option, he admits, might be “just a little bit too much for people.”
Enhanced colostrum intake and a subsequent biologically normal (intensive) milk feeding programme support body growth and organ development in dairy calves. Only providing traditional restricted feeding is detrimental to resistance to disease, life-time performance and leaves calves hungry for long periods of time. This practice is therefore not consistent with animal welfare principles. Other contentious practices in the dairy industry, like early cow-calf separation and subsequent individual housing of the dairy calf, gain increasing attention from the general public. Scientific evidence does not support the common opinion, that these practices are beneficial for the health of calf or cow. Profound changes in current calf management practices are needed to improve dairy calf health and survival, enhance long-time performance of dairy heifers and satisfy consumer interests in farm animal welfare.
Introducing the wireless cow
From farming to warfare, an expert tour of what to expect in the networked, disruptive and surprisingly close future.
With a technological leap as ambitious, sprawling and hyped as the Internet of Things, it can be difficult to get a bead on just what it is — and to imagine how it’s going to affect you, if you’re not the type of person to rush out and buy a smart thermostat and a networked toothbrush.
We asked David Evans, former chief futurist at Cisco — and currently CTO and co-founder of Stringify , an IOT startup — to draw a map of where the technology stands today, where it’s going and how it will affect the nation.
A DECADE AGO, it was easy to describe what the Internet was and how you connected to it. PCs and laptops could log on and access the global computing network. Soon, smartphones were added to the mix, as well as industrial sensors and other electronic devices. It was still easy to tell what was connected to the Internet and what wasn’t.
Today, that’s changing. Every second, according to my calculations, an average 127 new things are connected to the Internet. At this rate, 328 million things are being connected every month, approximately one for each person in the U.S. By the time you finish reading this article, more than 100,000 new things will have been added to the Internet.
And the “things” are no longer just computers and phones. Today, literally anything can be connected, including tennis rackets, diapers, clothing, vehicles and, of course, homes. And although people may find this unsettling, the network is also starting to include biological things: Today, pets, crops, livestock, and the clothing on your body can be connected. We’re not far from an Internet link you can actually swallow as a pill.
As soon as a thing is connected, it becomes “intelligent,” able to tap into computing power from the cloud as well as the collective information from other things. Suddenly, a shirt doesn’t just provide protection from the elements it generates data that allow people to measure temperature, perspiration, heart rate, movement and more. A connected shirt on an athlete can improve performance. A connected shirt on a soldier could save his or her life.
These innovations might seem trivial, but they’re not. Take for example, Vessyl. Vessyl is a “connected cup” from Mark One that can identify, measure and track what you drink. Today, it can even tell the difference between a Coke and a Pepsi. The device has been met with skepticism — one editor called Vessyl “the most ridiculous, unnecessary gadget I ’ ve seen demoed in all my years as a tech journalist.”
He may be missing the bigger picture. It’s not too difficult to envision Vessyl or similar devices being used in health care to provide immediate blood or urine analysis, or by a chemical company to determine and measure elements in a new compound. It could preventing someone from consuming a liquid they might be allergic to, or help a person with diabetes consume just the right amount and type of sugar.
Here's what policymakers need to understand: Each individual device hooked up to the Internet is a kind of experiment, and any given product might succeed or fail. But in aggregate, this is an advance so large it's hard to grasp as a single thing. Government itself will have broad use for these technologies leaders will have a growing responsibility to protect consumers while also fostering a key American industry. To help leaders understand its full implications, I've put together a broad survey of the areas where I believe IOT will have the biggest impact on policy and governance in the next four to five years.
CAN YOU REALLY DIGITIZE FOOD?
It’s hard to imagine a more analog industry than food — from planting seeds in the dirt to cooking and eating dinner. But that’s exactly why networking and sensors are likely to be so transformative.
Start with the farm. Farming is an extremely unpredictable business, thanks to everything from weather to commodity prices. Equipment is expensive land and water are scarce. Millions of dollars can be lost each growing season simply by making a wrong decision.
Farmers are already addressing these risks using sensors, GPS, tablets and cloud servers to map yields, time plantings and know just how much fertilizer to apply. FieldView from The Climate Corporation is a cylindrical device that fits in the palm of your hand, connects to a tractor and allows the driver to view real-time images of their acreage through their iPads, for example, to see just where fertilizer needs to be applied to achieve yield targets.
In addition to crops, IOT is affecting the livestock industry. Radio frequency ID tags, similar to those implanted in pets in case they get lost, have been used for years to make cows easier to track. But uptake has been slow. An estimated 30 million cattle worldwide have been tagged in the past 15 years. That number is small, however, given that there are about 98 million head of cattle in the U.S. alone, and 1 billion worldwide.
This may change as concerns over rapidly spreading diseases such as mad cow and bird flu mount. Already, the worst bird flu in U.S. history has resulted in more than 46 million chickens and turkeys being destroyed in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading. And mad cow disease has not gone away. The latest case was discovered just this year in Alberta, Canada.
What can be done to limit or even prevent epidemics from happening in the future? Consider how fitness trackers for people are evolving. Companies are already moving to apply the technology to animals. An ear tag sensor developed by Agis Automatisering in the Netherlands has been validated for heat detection and health monitoring in the dairy industry. It also shows promise as a tool for early detection of respiratory disease in feedlot cattle. The CowManager SensOor tag clips onto an Allflex RFID tag to detect ear movement when cows are feeding when an animal’s eating patterns suddenly shift, an alert is sent to farmers via an app on their mobile devices. Changes in feeding behavior can indicate illness as early as seven days before cattle show symptoms, so the alerts can help farmers head off problems early.
Further into the future, many foresee innovations such as “vertical farming” transforming agriculture entirely, and here the IOT will be central. A vertical farm is the practice, now mostly experimental, of cultivating plant life skyscraper-style, which allows farms to be located in or near cities, shortening the time for growing, transporting and distributing food.
Vertical farms would be networked two ways — internally and externally. Internally, small sensors in the soil or connected to the plants themselves will tell a system exactly how much light, water and nutrients are required to grow the healthiest, most productive crops. Sensors will also tell farmers when crops are at their peak for harvesting. The entire thing would essentially be a responsive machine for growing crops.
Externally, vertical farms will be connected to other networks and information systems, including potential databases that track local demand. For example, local restaurants could input when they need to replenish their fresh food supplies. This information could be aggregated to help vertical farmers know which crops to grow and in what quantities. Vertical farms would also be connected to the power grid, using their windows as solar panels to supply the system — creating a tight feedback loop involving the food supply, the power grid and consumers that would have been unimaginable a generation ago.
HEALTH CARE: A COMPLICATED ICEBERG
The Apple Watch is a tiny thing that evokes the huge potential of the IOT. The average American adult sits seven to nine hours a day — more than most people sleep each night, a lifestyle that is increasingly believed to harm our health. It’s easy to read advice about walking more, and just as easy to ignore it. But the fact that the watch is attached to you — that it’s monitoring your movements and can physically remind you to stand up and walk around — makes a huge difference in how much it affects your behavior. Similarly, the FitBit, and even the iPhone’s step-counting feature, offer an entirely new kind of encouragement to keep people active.
This is just the tip of an iceberg, and the opportunities and challenges here are increasingly complex. Inside the medical system, hospitals and doctors’ offices are already being transformed by Internet of Things technologies, as testing and record-keeping become increasingly electronic. Some shut-in patients have begun to get their regular daily care via “telemedicine,” a networked suite of home-care devices that can be monitored remotely by doctors and nurses.
As technology improves, these two distinct-sounding things — consumer products and specialized medical devices — will begin to converge. For example, a company called Cyrcadia Health is developing a connected bra to improve breast-cancer detection and reduce the number of unnecessary screenings. An ingestible sensor called the Proteus pill, which has received FDA clearance, though still in the experimental phase, can communicate real-time information about your body to doctors through a wireless connection.
Individually, they might sound like novelties, but taken together they represent what might be the most important structural change in health care in our lifetime: turning a check-up into an ongoing process, not an annual event. And as wearable devices improve, and more sensors are added to measure blood pressure, pulse rate and glucose levels, the benefits will only increase — and consumer health and the medical realm will increasingly intersect.
This raises a host of opportunities and also challenges that reach to the top level of government. Our payment system, from Medicare on down, is built around doctor visits, and it’s not always clear how it will fund the new connected-health industry. Hospitals are already struggling with technical “interoperability” questions, as devices made by different companies don’t always sync well — an annoyance in an office, but a life-threatening problem in an ER. And the vast amounts of patient data suddenly traveling through new channels raise red flags for health-data privacy regulators.
TRANSPORT: WILL HUMAN DRIVERS BE OUTLAWED?
Several years ago, I predicted that human driving would become illegal in many scenarios. It struck people as crazy at the time, especially car enthusiasts. But I still believe it could happen, and to understand why is to get a sense of just how much networked transportation is going to change our world.
Google’s self-driving car, ignored for years as just one of the company’s pet projects, has garnered a lot of attention with its ability to safely navigate test environments. Google admits that fully autonomous cars are years away from replacing human-driven vehicles, given the enormous complexities involved. But self-driving technology is already starting to show up on the road. Tesla is about to enable its fully electric cars with a driverless mode via a wireless software upgrade. Luxury carmakers such as Mercedes and Infiniti are competing to introduce features that automatically slow your car in traffic or avoid dangerous lane changes.
But individual cars aren’t likely to be the first place where networked vehicles make their impact felt. That’s likely to be the trucking industry, which delivers nearly 70 percent of all freight transported annually in the U.S. and uses huge amounts of fuel and road capacity. The Internet of Things has tremendous potential to make the industry safer and more efficient. Just recently, Daimler received approval from Nevada to test its driverless trucks on the state’s highways. The truck uses cameras, sensors and radar to scan the area all around it and determine its position on the road and in relation to nearby cars and trucks.
Connected trucks are aiming to improve safety by taking much human error out of the equation. Currently, the top three causes of trucking accidents — drug use, speeding and unfamiliarity with local roads — all involve human judgment error.
M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO and Handout images
Connected trucks can slow fuel usage, lower emissions and reduce maintenance costs. For example, connected trucks can calculate and suggest the most efficient route given road and weather conditions. They can also monitor and automatically adjust tire pressure in real time. In the future, “self-shaping” trucks will be able to change their profile on the fly based on wind direction, lowering themselves by a couple of inches to greatly improve fuel efficiency and wear and tear on the engine and transmission.
It’s not unreasonable to expect that trucking will soon be a collaborative effort between the truck and the driver. (The term “driverless” is really a misnomer today.) Drivers will still be present in the truck to monitor and control the truck on its journey. You can think of today’s autonomous trucks as autopilot for drivers. Clearly, this poses a challenge for regulation and liability, since our current legal system is built entirely around the driver.
And even before we get to self-driving and autonomous vehicles, a more fully networked transit system will change the experience of getting from one place to another, or even finding a place to park. Today, several cities, including Amsterdam and Barcelona, have installed parking sensors that can detect and signal when a space is occupied or vacant, informing drivers via a mobile app. Further into the future, as transportation becomes more connected, vehicles involved in a crash could send a signal that alerts all other drivers, enabling them to slow down or take an alternate route, dramatically reducing travel delays and speeding the progress of emergency vehicles. According to a report by Morgan Stanley about the impact of autonomous cars, when fully functional, the full suite of networked car capabilities could save approximately 30,000 lives and avoid 2.12 million injuries each year.
The prospect of a more intelligent transit system raises some important questions for planners and regulators. How do you integrate the new automated infrastructure with the legacy analog one? And if networking produces the huge safety gains that are predicted, at what point does the law begin to acknowledge and even enforce the use of new, safer technologies?
So will driving be outlawed? The time might be coming closer. During a technology company conference, Tesla founder Elon Musk said, “In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it's too dangerous. You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” He later clarified his comments by tweeting, “When self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter. Hopefully not.” It might be too radical for even Elon Musk to say now, but the fact is that humans are very error-prone drivers, and the connected future will force us to confront that reality.
DEFENSE: NETWORKING THE BATTLEFIELD
The true cost of war is its human toll, and nowhere does the Internet of Things have the potential to save American lives more directly than it has in the realm of defense.
Drones, often called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have already become a central tool of American force projection, conducting surveillance and attacking enemy targets from great distances without putting pilots' lives at risk. But they've also triggered ethical debates so profound they've reached the Senate floor, which are only likely to become sharper as drones become smarter, opening up the question of how much of a "kill" decision can be delegated to a machine.
As the technology improves, the Pentagon is developing smaller drones to use in whole new ways, for instance to act as the eyes and ears of combatants. Recently, the Navy put out a request for information for both a nano and a small vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aircraft system. The request stated the nano system should weigh between 5 and 20 pounds and be capable of providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during day and night operations and in all environmental conditions. This approach builds on the use of larger, long-distance drones by becoming an integral part of military teams on the ground, essentially extending and augmenting the human senses of seeing and hearing.
This is all part of a larger development in warfighting that is often called the “connected battlefield” — an orchestrated scenario in which literally everything involved in a battle, including air and ground vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and even soldiers themselves, is networked and monitored from a command and control system. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency even has a program to control and track individual bullets. This clearly opens the door to dramatically better on-the-ground planning, potentially cutting through the “fog of war” as never before, but also clearly creates huge new needs for data management, security and reliability.
Drones, in particular, have raised significant legal, moral and ethical questions that the U.S. government is still working through. And those are likely to become only more complex as armed, unmanned vehicles enter more types of combat and become smarter and more autonomous.
But many of the networked technologies are more benign, helping to save money and eliminate waste. And considering the dangers caused by the simple unpredictability of war, connectedness that increases the amount of information available allows for better decisions, saving both civilian and combatant lives.
HOME: YOUR STUFF COMES TO LIFE
When people bring up the topic of the Internet of Things, one bit of shorthand they often use is the “connected refrigerator.” (Or the networked toaster, or the smart toothbrush.) It’s often easiest to understand a technology by starting with the things most familiar to us. Some of the most prevalent “networked home” technologies today are security systems, thermostats, light bulbs, appliances and locks.
While these innovations are interesting and make life more convenient, they really just scratch the surface of what’s possible. In the future, almost any object or surface could be connected to the Internet, where it has access to intelligence and information from the cloud. Soon, your door may have a camera with facial recognition that sends alerts to your mobile device about who visited while you were away. Cameras on other doors and windows could automatically alert the police and immediately notify you when a criminal tries to enter your home. There is even an oven in development — the June Intelligent Oven — that recognizes what you cook and makes recommendations based on your dietary requirements.
Of course, this all assumes that the “things” we network more or less stay where they are, becoming a smarter version of the domestic landscape we know. But with computing, that’s not what happened — computers moved from their original homes in separate buildings and rooms, to your desktop, pocket and now wrist. It’s reasonable to expect that networked things themselves are going to become an even more integrated part of our active lives.
The clearest current example is drones, whose civilian use has generated every bit as many headlines as their military use. Amazon’s experiments with drones are a well-known attempt to radically change how packages are delivered. (In Europe, Amazon is testing a nondrone delivery scheme in which DHL delivers packages directly to the trunks of Audi owners’ remote-unlockable cars.) All of these are raising new questions about what constitutes commercial aircraft, who should regulate and supervise their activities, and what the world might look like with a new kind of traffic flying overhead.
As Washington wakes up to the importance of this new tech wave, I’d suggest a few things:
• Don’t look at your world in the same way again. The Internet of Things is quickly turning inanimate objects into intelligent devices, and it’s happening now. In the next decade, 50 billion things will be connected to the Internet. Consider something as trivial as the front door of your home. Now consider how it transforms via a low cost sensor and an Internet connection. The door now grabs a snapshot of your face, sends it to the cloud for processing, and via facial recognition determines whether or not to let you in. A simple object just became a very powerful entity, controlling access to your home, thanks to a connection.
Don’t do nothing. I know this is a double negative, but I want to make a point. Doing nothing is the worst possible course of action. Change is happening fast with or without you. Because it’s the early days, you have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future. Action today — or inaction — will be greatly amplified in the future.
• Don’t be too much of a skeptic. It’s far too easy to assume that this is all overblown, or that risks such as privacy and security will outweigh the rewards. While healthy skepticism is important, fear will result only in stifling innovation. Overall, the human race has done pretty well in using its advances to help people live longer and improve their standard of living. Even if you discount this advice as coming from someone in the technology industry, think of it this way: This is already happening. Skepticism, at this point, is just a form of pretending things won’t change.
It is rare that a technology comes along that is so pervasive, so transformational and so accessible by so many. Over the coming years, and as our population continues to grow, we are about to face some big challenges. IOT has the potential to change how we manage our planet, how we manage our precious resources, how we communicate, how we manage our health, how we educate and ultimately how we live. Your ability to shape the world has never been greater than it is today. Let’s get this right.
David Evans is co-founder and CTO of Stringify , a startup company focused on transforming the Internet of Everything.
Animal Well-Being – Our partner farmers are committed to the well-being of their cows. Each farm has veterinarian oversight to provide frequent wellness checks to ensure the overall health and wellness of the animals.
Housing – All farms that supply to fairlife must offer cows and calves housing environments that are designed to keep the animals clean, safe, and comfortable. Cow and calf housing must be regularly monitored to ensure thermal comfort of the animals. In keeping with current science and public expectations, we’ll encourage and incentivize all supplying farms to pursue innovation that further ensures general animal comfort.
Humane Handling – fairlife recognizes that dairy cattle should be handled with patience, care, and compassion to minimize unpleasant mental states such as fear and distress, maximize their comfort, and ensure their physical safety as well as that of their handlers. We require our suppliers to ensure that animal caretakers are trained in low-stress cow and calf handling. Supplying farms should utilize handling facilities, equipment, and procedures that reduce stress to the cattle, and they should monitor the animals consistently during handling to better protect the physical safety of animals.
Transportation – Working together with our supplying farms, fairlife has created specific standards that define transportation responsibility. Supplying farms are directly responsible for arranging for safe transportation both on and off their farms, irrespective of animal ownership.
Pain Mitigation – fairlife is committed to improving pain detection, identifying routine practices that cause pain to cows and calves, and finding alternatives to avoid or mitigate pain.
ZERO Tolerance – All farms that supply milk to fairlife have committed to ZERO TOLERANCE of animal abuse. It’s our policy that all supplying farm employees must sign this commitment as part of their required training and continuously live by it. Violation of this policy results in termination of any employee who has abused an animal on one occasion and, if appropriate, referral to law enforcement for further investigation.