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Farmers use AR for identifying sheep illnesses

Farmers are making a beeline to obtain a brand-new smartphone application that makes use of augmented reality (AR) technology to demonstrate to them how to identify uncommon illnesses in the flocks of sheep.

The AHA has recently joined forces with the Red Meat and Wool Growth Program of the South Australian government to develop the Sheep Emergency Animal Disease or EAD augmented reality (AR) application as a teaching resource for core producers.

The programme, created by technology startup Think Digital, creates a simulated flock of sheep where the user is physically located. The next step involves the app’s users having to answer a question about which sheep exhibit symptoms of sickness. After a user has identified the sheep with the signs, they are asked to point out anything strange about the animal.

The sheep can be carrying a lesion on either its foot or within its mouth, for instance, if they are looking for the foot or mouth areas of their bodies. The application then requests a disease prediction from the user. It currently contains information on four animal illnesses not yet present in South Africa, including sheep pox, bluetongue, scrapie, foot disease, and mouth disease.

Emily Mellor, Manager, Department of Primary Industries and Regions Red Meat and Wool Growth Program, stated that the software would properly brace farmers for such illnesses if they ever arrive in South Australia, even if these diseases have not yet affected flocks around the region yet.

According to Mellor, It is quite difficult for a farmer to identify the symptoms of a sickness that they are unfamiliar with. Because of what has been done through the app development process, users are now able to engage with a virtual flock of sheep in the same way that they would with a real flock.

The farmers can engage with the virtual sheep by walking around them, looking inside their mouths and below them, and interacting with them to determine the symptoms of the exotic illnesses. Then, they can put in their efforts to identify what the illness actually is.

According to Kat Bidstrup, Chief Executive Officer of Think Digital, previously, this education may have been carried out via the distribution of pamphlets or through field days. She elaborated that infectious conditions such as foot and mouth illness may appear to be quite visible if they are present in a particular flock. In actuality, these diseases are not that easy to detect, and the team is attempting to demonstrate that the situation might not be all that serious.

Bidstrup said that it’s a true student-friendly tool since users can navigate around the digital item and go through the process of discovering what the problem is.

According to available information, the software may be downloaded to a phone or tablet and used either with or without an AR headset. It will be demonstrated during the evokeAG 2023 conference, which will be held in Adelaide, South Australia, in February next year.

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