Augmented reality brings livestock into the living room as farmers look to beef-up sales

Beaming a 3D, interactive, cattle yard into your living room is a technology already here and will soon be used in the agriculture industry, according to digital entrepreneur Tim Gentle.

As the founder of Farm VR — a farming virtual reality experience, Mr Gentle has progressed his farming technology into augmented reality (AR), which mixes the virtual world with the real world.

According to Mr Gentle, AR is where you can project images of 3D objects around you, with a simple pair of glasses or mobile phone, similar to the Pokemon Go phenomenon which was immensely popular a few years ago.

“Augmented reality is really going to reshape the way we work with content,” Mr Gentle said.

“Instead of looking at a screen or putting on a headset, the content is almost going to be around us, like it’s you and I.

Live in action

Mr Gentle demonstrated his new technology at the recent Northern Territory Cattlemen’s conference in Alice Springs, showing how cattle yard models could be projected into surroundings.

“I was able to walk through them as though they were there.

Mr Gentle sighted another example where the technology might be useful, especially when buying livestock without driving hundreds of kilometres to see the animals in the flesh.

“Imagine just reading the newspaper or looking through the magazine, you suddenly see a bull you’re interested in, you put your [device] over it and boom there it is,” Mr Gentle said.

The potential for using the technology for agricultural training purposes is also there, according to Mr Gentle — especially for things like weed identification or milking cows.

New age farming not too far off

The digital educator said it was actually the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association which pushed him to develop farming augmented reality.

“They were the ones that stimulated the thought process and they got it out of me,” Mr Gentle said.

Mr Gentle is planning on having his Farm AR app running and available to download in a few months.

In terms of applying the technology to the industry more widely, he said that will likely happen as wearable technology becomes more prominent.

“At the moment we’re using our mobile phones to ‘augment’ objects,” he said.

Using AR offline

For places like the Northern Territory, where many stations have little to no mobile coverage, augmented reality might seem impossible.

However Mr Gentle said devices will have options where you can download data while in connectivity, and then use it once offline.

“If you install an app on wifi, then you wouldn’t need connectivity after that,” he said.

“The app wouldn’t need to be online.”

Despite the many technological developments happening in agriculture, Mr Gentle said old fashion farming still takes the cake.

“I simply love farming, and [this] is not going to replace the real stuff.”