Irish computer vision and AI agriculture specialist Cainthus hopes to raise $50m after launching a facial recognition tool for cows.
The Dublin-based startup, which is backed by global agri-giant Cargill, is on the lookout for more funding to expand the use of its automation technology in the farming industry, CEO Aidan Connolly told the Irish Times.
Founded in 2016 by brothers David and Ross Hunt, along with Robin Johnston, Cainthus proprietary software uses images to identify individual animals based on hide patterns and facial recognition. According to the blurb posted when the partnership with Cargill kicked off, it then "tracks key data such as food and water intake, heat detection and behaviour patterns".
"The software then delivers analytics that drives on-farm decisions that can impact milk production, reproduction management and overall animal health," the company said.
The technology is said to be able to identify individual cows by their features in several seconds to memorise a cow's unique identity, recording individual patterns and movements.
To get the supposed benefits of the technology, farmers do have to kit out their cowsheds and farmyards, though. Cainthus brings cameras and computing power to the farm for around-the-clock visual monitoring. It uploads data to the cloud for additional processing and analytics to offer farmers insight into their operations via web or app-based dashboards.
It is not just bovine recognition that has succumb to the power of artificial intelligence. In the field of conservation, AI has proved valuable in identifying whale sharks, zebras and other beasts to record their movements and numbers to help understand changes in populations.
Humans, it turns out, have gone the other way down the farmyard path. One farmer became a famous neurological case study after a stroke left him unable to recognise people, but still able to distinguish individuals among his flock of sheep. ®