Bringing gaming to farming: augmented reality in agriculture

In what’s believed will be a world first in agriculture, researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, will use popular gaming platforms, sensor technologies and next-generation data interaction techniques to help prawn farmers make decisions in a bid to boost productivity.

[Music plays. Image shows a young man standing in a room holding a pair of high tech goggles. Text appears: Dr Mingze Xi, CSIRO postdoctoral Fellow]

[Image changes to show the man walking through a door. Text appears: We’re using computer vision and graphics from the gaming world]

[Image changes to show a camera connected to the ceiling. Image changes to show two men standing at a desk looking at a computer. Text appears: sensor technologies and next generation data interaction techniques]

[Image changes to show the high tech goggles being picked up. The man walks to the light switch, turns the light off and puts the goggles on]

[Text appears: to enhance productivity in complex agricultural environments such as prawn farming]

[Image changes to show what the man sees through the goggles. Image shows a series of coloured squares and text with numbers about ponds]

[Image changes to show the man wearing the goggles using hand and head gestures to control the content of the goggles]

[Text appears: This technology could help prawn farmers make sense of massive amounts of data on water quality]

[Images changes to show what the man sees through the goggles. Image shows a graph of water quality in a pond]

[text appears: and monitor and improve production systems in real time, for the first time.]

[Image changes to show what the man sees through the goggles. Image shows text and graphs with numbers about ponds and a series of coloured squares]

[Image changes to show CSIRO logo. Music plays. Text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

Augmented-reality-in-agriculture

Water conditions in prawn ponds can quickly change from healthy to threatening in a matter of hours, but current methods for monitoring water quality are labour intensive and cause significant delays between the measurements and being able to see important trends in the data.

Speaking at D61+ LIVE in Sydney, Australia’s premier science, technology and innovation event, CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Mingze Xi said they have developed technology that will give farmers near real-time understanding of key water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen and pH levels.

“This is done using state-of-the-art wearable and hands-free technologies that they use while they’re walking around and managing the ponds,” Dr Xi said.

“Prawn farmers tell us that they don’t actually farm prawns, they farm water quality.

“This could give them the information they need to better manage animal health and feed inputs, for example, and even share the visuals in real time with managers in the office or external experts for fast input.”

The technology draws on CSIRO’s domain expertise in agriculture and the capabilities of its data and digital specialist arm, Data61. It was developed by CSIRO’s Digiscape Future Science Platform and uses the power of Data61’s Senaps platform, which helps businesses connect data in a range of different formats, integrate complex analytics and turn it into useful intelligence that can make a difference.

Pacific Reef Fisheries Pty Ltd, a prawn farm operator in Ayr near Townsville in northern Queensland, is working with CSIRO to provide real world conditions for testing the system.

Environmental Manager Kristian Mulholland said augmented reality in the aquaculture industry had the potential to transform productivity in the industry.

“Augmented reality technology could be a huge game changer for our industry to make water quality monitoring so much quicker and easier, all in real time, and bringing a visual aspect of data display to efficiently make more accurate management decisions,” he said.

“We could gain huge productivity improvements using this technology, and we’re incredibly excited to be a part of its development.”

CSIRO has chosen prawn farming as the first agricultural industry to test this technology, with a view to expanding into other sectors shortly.

“We can see this technology becoming a normal part of farm operations no matter what you farm, as all types of farming become more reliant on gathering and understanding data from sensor technologies,” Dr Xi said.

In addition to augmented reality technology, cutting edge projects across artificial intelligence, privacy, security and blockchain, will be on show at CSIRO’s D61+ LIVE in Sydney on 2 and 3 October 2019.

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