TOPEKA, Kan. — New technology being developed at Kansas State University is capitalizing on the power of artificial intelligence to build a database of facial recognition technology for the cattle industry. Like humans, each cow has a set of unique facial features that modern technology can scan and later use to track the animal throughout its life.
According to K-State extension beef cattle specialist KC Olson, who helped develop this idea, the technology is based on the geometry of the human face. It uses intricate biometric measurements to put a permanent identification on a person and is capable of nearly 100% accuracy.
Olson and a group of K-State experts in computer engineering, veterinary medicine and animal science began discussing how to apply this technology to cattle last fall. Initially, the group made short videos of 1,000 feeder cattle that were restrained in a chute, taking a panoramic view of each calf’s head. From the videos, computer engineers parsed individual images and uploaded it to a neural network. Once the pictures are loaded, Olson said, the system “teaches itself which of the biometric measurements are critical.” The K-State team recently tested the reliability of the network, feeding images of cattle already in the system, and some that had not yet been entered. Olson said it was accurate 94% of the time.
“The major limitation right now is the size of the database. The bigger it becomes – in other words, the smarter the neural network is – the higher the accuracy becomes. Achieving buy-in from the beef industry is absolutely essential to make this as robust as possible.”
K-State is working with Kansas City-based company Black Hereford Holdings to build a smartphone app called Cattletracs, which will allow producers to submit pictures of their cattle. The app is due to be released soon, though its full capability is not likely to be in place for several months.
— Kansas Livestock Association
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