IBM to provide network to monitor cattle|
IBM Corp. is teaming up with a Utah company that offers a remote system to transmit the body temperature of cattle to ranchers, dairy farmers, feedlot owners and government regulators.
IBM said Thursday it will provide network services to monitor millions of cattle at a time for TekVet of North Salt Lake, a company that developed a battery-powered transmitter with a flexible thermometer that can fit inside a cow's ear.
A microprocessor can identify an animal and its life history, show its approximate location and log body temperature once an hour, giving livestock owners an early warning of health problems that could lead to an outbreak of disease.
"The cattle industry is basically the last frontier for technology to conquer. This is an industry that's been untouched for the most part by technology," Tali Haleua, chairman and president of TekVet, a company he started in 2003, said Thursday. "It could ultimately help protect our food supply."
His device was designed for cattle, but Haleua said he was working on systems for pigs, goats, sheep "and anything with four legs and a tail."
TekVet is working to extend the range of the transmitter, which can beam a cow's vitals several hundred yards to field receivers.
The company will upload the data from the receivers via satellite to an IBM data center in Phoenix, where computer servers will collect the information for secure distribution on the Internet.
Haleua said TekVet's sensor, which can be reused five times, and network services will be priced at $20, which translates into a cost of about $3.30 per animal — less than the cost of a static radio frequency identification device, which doesn't monitor body temperature.
Although some reports have suggested TekVet's temperature sensor can detect mad cow disease, Haleua said the disease doesn't affect body temperature. But more common ailments can trigger a rise in an animal's body temperature, he said.
Utah State University has agreed to use the system for research in beef and dairy cattle.
TekVet is focusing its sales efforts in the U.S. and major beef producing countries throughout Latin America and Asia. The company selected IBM for its ability to integrate data for a global enterprise.
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