Someone is putting VR headsets on cows, and we want to know why

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Let us just be up entrance in this article:indeed, these photographs seem to be to exhibit a cow sporting a digital actuality headset, andno, we really do not genuinely know what is going on here.

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You may have viewed these images floating all around social media adopted by a trail of reviews like “this is the dystopian foreseeable future we were warned about” and “enter the mootrix.” They purportedly display an experiment remaining executed in Russia to see if supplying dairy cows VR headsets can lessen panic and enhance milk produce, but — as you may well have guessed — it’s not at all apparent whether this is a genuine demo or an elaborate advertising and marketing stunt.

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The tale can be traced back again to this (evidently critical) push release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Meals of the Moscow Region, which was picked up by Russian outlets likeInterfaxandThe Moscow Times.

The studies say exams of the VR headsets are staying carried out at a farm near Moscow, with the (Google-translated) release noting that the goggles have been specifically adapted for a cow’s head condition and vision. VR designers ended up also reportedly hired to build a “unique summer season area simulation program” for the animals to delight in.


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Early testers for Google Grass?
Impression: Ministry of Agriculture and Foodstuff of the Moscow Area

The launch notes that there’s a rising development in agriculture to concentration on animals’ psychological perfectly-staying, with top quality-of-life enhancements like scrubbing brushes and comforting music strengthening yields. So why not try VR as nicely? A initially test of the headset showed “a lessen in stress and an maximize in the total emotional temper of the herd,” the launch suggests, and a “further comprehensive study” is forthcoming. But, uh, is it? It’s not very clear.

It’s unquestionably notnot possiblethat this is a true experiment. The agricultural industry is as keen as any other to apply new know-how — just glance at the farmers employing facial recognition on pigs! — and it would not be the initially time that anyone suggested VR could enhance animals’ well-currently being. Furthermore, while cows don’t see like human beings do, they do seemingly have constrained binocular eyesight, suggesting modified VR goggles could function on them.

On the other hand, the push release suggests the experiment wasn’t conducted by a university but by “Milknews.ru,” a information internet site for the Russian dairy field. It also encourages audience to sign up for the approaching “VI Worldwide Agro-Industrial Dairy Forum” in which they can study more about technological know-how in agriculture. This indicates the VR cows may well just be a very good way to get consideration for an normally run-of-the-mill conference. If so: work carried out.

We really don’t know how deep this rabbit gap goes, but we have achieved out toMilknews, the Moscow Ministry of Agriculture and Food items, and Rusmoloko (the enterprise managing the farm the place the trials reportedly took position) to see if we can get any more info.

At the finish of the day, what we can say is that another person took the time to make at leastjust onemock-up virtual fact headset for a cow and took these pics. We don’t have to have to milk the tale any far more than that.

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