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Russia experiment with VR to make cows more productive

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If you’re convinced that Virtual Reality is just a gimmick and unlikely to find any practical usage in society soon – think again. The ministry of agriculture in Russia believes that VR may just be the secret to happier cows and better milk. And no, I am seriously not making this up.  

CNN reported on the news of a farm outside of Moscow that is testing VR glasses for its cows to increase the quantity — and quality — of the milk produced. According to the ministry of agriculture, studies have shown that cows’ environmental conditions can impact the milk produced, specifically improving its quality or increasing its quantity.

To pull this off a team of developers, with the help of veterinarians and consultants for dairy production, made some oversized VR glasses for cows. They adapted the human versions to account for cows’ different head shapes and eyesight. The cows are then shown a VR experience of a wild, expansive field in the summer sun (something which Russia doesn’t get much of) while they are standing in an isolated environment.

According to the report, while they have yet to determine if the glasses increased milk production, a test revealed a decrease in anxiety and an increase in the emotional mood of the herd. I have concerns around the long-term effects this could have on the cows, in particular, the normal motion sickness that tends to come from a VR experience. Perhaps a frothier milkshake is what the Russians are after anyway though.

I’m honestly intrigued by the audacity of the experiment and would be very interested to see I this works for the cows and if they would ever intend to roll this out elsewhere in similarly cold countries where cows maybe are not in the ideal environments they want to be. Now all I need is a VR experience that somehow allows me to drive to work with no traffic and bad drivers and I might also feel more at peace with the world.

Last Updated: December 3, 2019

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