Feeds

Rawhide gets taste of the Wi-Fi cowboy

Herding cattle, 802.11b style

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

While the corporate world struggles to find a business model that will make Wi-Fi hotspots pay, those agricultural types out in the countryside have been having other ideas. Not for the farmer the delights of high speed Internet access in a soulless coffee joint.

No. In the country, they'll use Wi-Fi to herd cattle.

The suggestion was actually made by roboticist Zack Butler, speaking at the MobiSys conference in Boston. He proposes a system of moving virtual fences, controlled by Wi-Fi, and managed from a single server 'back at the ranch', New Scientist reports.

The virtual fence is actually a set of GPS co-ordinates that would be downloaded to a collar which the cow would wear. If the cow gets too close to the fence co-ordinates, the collar will make a noise, or give the cow an electric shock to scare it away. When the fence moves, Butler says, it will herd the cows with it.

Butler and his colleagues have developed software that will do this, and have built working prototype collars from commonly available components.

The team has already carried out a test of a static version of the fence system, with 10 'volunteer' cows and a square kilometre field. The moving fences have so far only been tested in a group of students. (We reckon this could be a whole new market).

The collar works using a Zaurus PDA, an eTrex GPS unit and a loudspeaker. It has a built in Wi-Fi networking card, and communicates with the controlling server thanks to a 802.11b base station located in the field. Butler suggests that in the real world, these base stations could be located at solar powered watering holes, so that cows could still have their fence co-ordinates updated even if they were frequently out of range of the network.

Unfortunately for the cows, it is likely that if the product ever gets to market the fence boundaries will be communicated to them with a combination of sound and shock. Although the trials have played warning sounds including roaring tigers and hissing snakes, the sound alone doesn't scare them enough to stop them crossing the fence-line. The level of fear among students was not reported. ®

Related stories

Apple builds wireless hi-fi bridge with pocket router
Promiscuous BluePod file swapping - coming to a PDA near you
Attack of the bandwidth-hogging hackers
Motorola brings push-to-talk to Wi-Fi

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.