Last month we wrote about the move to smart wearable collars and VR headsets for dairy herds. Over in South Korea, livestock health care startup ULikeKorea has a different approach to delivering similar herd monitoring services. Their invention, a biofriendly non-toxic sugarcane capsule, measuring 10cm by 2.5cm is designed to be safely swallowed by a cow, thereafter residing forever inside the cow’s stomach. It provides real time data about the animal to the farmer. Globally over 70,000 cows are already being monitored this way.
The capsule is an internet-of-things device, physical data from the animal is gathered on a central box and relayed to the farmer’s computer or mobile device/app over 300 times a day. Data includes markers for around 40 types of livestock disease including foot-and-mouth disease, sepsis and mastitis. The device also records body temperature, drinking cycle, ruminal pH level and overall animal activity as well as helping to alert farmers to the optimal time for insemination.
LiveCare’s presentation describes how an alarm or a message is immediately sent to a farmer and the veterinarian when any abnormality in behaviour or physical health is detected.
“Livestock health care is directly related to human health,” Kim Hee-jin, the co-founder and CEO of ULikeKorea, told The Korea Herald ‘Investor’. “Cows are often given steroids for artificial plumping, or given excessive antibiotics. With our LiveCare bio capsule, what a cow takes is recorded and monitored for ethical farming,” she added.
A number of companies have begun to offer necklace and ear-clip type livestock health monitoring devices to gather such information. Our previous article on this topic described how India-based Stellapps Technologies outfitted cows with a wearable device called the the ‘mooOn‘ to track activity such as their sleep and movements. That same article spoke of how a company called Cowlar in Pakistan unleashed a smart collar for farmers to monitor bovine temperature, activity and behaviour – and how researchers in Russia donned cows with VR headsets…
The shortfalls with each of these worn applications is not only that animal-lovers may accuse scientists and farmers of cruelty but that these wearables are also susceptible to external shock and damage, consequently distorting the biometric data.
The LiveCare capsule, on the other hand, is safely tucked inside the cow’s body, so the farmer receives all the information intact. Kim, who has a doctorate in computer engineering from Ewha Women’s University in Seoul and founded uLikeKorea with her husband in 2012, vouched that the LiveCare device relayed data with 98 percent accuracy.
Monitoring sheep and other animals
LiveCare bio capsules for sheep were launched in late 2019 as ULikeKorea eye the potentially lucrative markets in New Zealand and Australia. Kim said, “Sheep are susceptible to diseases including the foot-and-mouth disease and require a high level of care. We have researched and studied sheep for the past three years and gone through various iterations of technology before we were able to finally develop the bio-capsule.”
She added that capsules for other animals are also on the near horizon, saying “Starting in 2020, we will be expanding our Livecare services to other livestock animals such as pigs and horses. We want to contribute to clean and transparent food chain to the consumers and help the industry the produce safer and cleaner food products.”
The company has already signed a deal with the Danish government with the intention to establish an EU headquarters to target business in 17 European nations.
“We are ready,” Kim told The Korea Herald, “to enter the global market including the US, Brazil, Australia, Japan, US and other key markets.”
Image Source: ULikeKorea Co