VR, It’s Not Just for Humans Anymore

When this article about cows wearing VR headsets popped up in my news feed I had to do some research to see if it was legit.  The photo alone made this appear like a hoax or even an article from The Onion, however a quick search shows that it’s being reported by a series of reputable sites in addition to the BCC including:Screenshot of Cow VR article headline.

The first question I had after reading the article title was “what do cows watch in Virtual Reality?” The articles all explain that the program shows sunny summer pastures to help decrease the animal’s anxiety so that it can produce more, and better quality milk.  I rather wish they had a sample image or video as I’m really curious what exactly this looks like.

It appears as if the idea is working.  It will be interesting to see the full study and all it’s data, however the articles themselves ask a few questions about possible technical problems such as, “how often do you need to charge the headsets?” and “does removing the headset upset or disturb the animal?” and “how does the animal adjust back to reality?”

The Engadget article makes another good point, humans are using technology to solve a problem of our own creation — the huge global demand for beef and animal products means we have to get creative to meet it.  We pile animals into all sorts of places with “not great” conditions only to feed the human population. I suppose parts of Russia where this study is being done do have the issue that the stark landscape is not exactly “calming” by the classic definition, and maybe cows don’t care for it either.

Question: Is the future of farming using technology to enhance our animals?  Or perhaps instead it is doing away with the animal (and the suffering) entirely with lab grown meats as in this recent article here?  Still maybe the Beyond and Impossible companies that make meat-like substitutes out of plants are where we are headed.  One thing is for certain, if something doesn’t change the world is headed to a future where we will not be able to meet the global demand for animal meat and byproducts.  It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

At a loss … so I plan!

Today is the first post since I started this project where I’m not really sure what to write about.  Lately I have been rather focused on flying drones especially with the new Mavic Mini.  I hope to get more flight time over the Thanksgiving break.  I also have my nephew’s computer to fix — fix maybe isn’t the right word because it never worked in the first place.  He tried to build it himself, but had never done it before.

I was able to do a little VR on the exercise bike today, 4.46 miles to be exact.  The annoying thing is that there was a 775MB update to install before I could even start, which was frustrating.  In the shower I had the thought to write a full review on the VirZOOM software, which I will likely do next week.  I do have some ideas on how it could be improved, however I want to check the forums the product has first as my ideas may not be new.  One of the things I do really like about the VirZOOM is that the developers seem to be very active and open to updates and suggestions from users.

So, just a few more days to go before the Thanksgiving break!

More Mini Flights

Over the weekend I could not help myself and I took advantage of the nice weather Saturday to fly the little Mavic Mini a few more times.  The little thing is very impressive!  It handles better and with longer flight time than the Phantom 3 Standard, the other drone that BCC owns, and the video capture is very comparable.  The main difference is that the Phantom 3 has more manual settings, the video resolution is still 2K.  My main surprise is how easily this drone is to fly – almost too easy!  One needs to keep in mind that it has no sensors for obstacle avoidance, meaning that if you tell it to it will fly right into a wall (or a tree, or a building) without hesitation.

Here’s some of the video from the weekend.

You will notice that I took great care only to operate only over my own property and to not exceed 400 feet, 120 meters, in altitude.  It’s honestly a bit surprising that the new DJI software will allow you to set the max height higher than that.   I’m still studying to obtain my Part 107 Certificate, however one of the nice things about flying this drone is that since I was flying recreationally and with a weight at just 249 grams, the certificate is not required by the FAA in this case.

One of my favorite features of the Mavic Mini is that it puts subtitles on the video it makes with flight data, such as GPS location, height, and a few other details.  (You won’t see that in the uploaded YouTube videos.)  Perhaps other DJI drones do this, but this is the first drone I’ve used that does that.

My next project is to see if I can get DroneBlocks to work with the Mavic Mini.