Nikon has ventured into a surprising intersection of imaging and artificial intelligence, unveiling a novel system that alerts farmers when a cow is on the brink of giving birth, as reported by Kyodo News. This innovative solution aims to alleviate the burden on farmers who traditionally need to monitor numerous pregnant cows, especially during peak birthing seasons, enhancing overall efficiency in agricultural practices.
Priced at 900,000 yen per year ($6,200) for farms with approximately 100 cows, the system is composed of a security-style camera integrated with an advanced AI system. The technology utilizes a dedicated smartphone application that issues timely alerts when a calf is expected, allowing farmers to take prompt action if necessary.
Nikon commenced AI training in the fall of 2021 and conducted proof-of-concept trials on four farms in southwestern Japan in February 2023. The system demonstrates its efficacy by identifying signs exhibited by pregnant cows approximately five hours before labor, such as heightened movement and the initiation of the release of the calf’s amniotic sac. Kazuhiro Hirano from Nikon expressed the company’s vision to expand the system’s capabilities to detect other behavioral patterns, including when a female cow is in heat.
According to feedback from participants, including livestock owner Keita Higuchi, who engaged in trials last year, the system has proven invaluable. Higuchi noted, “We deliver about 60 calves per year and had to check the mothers every few hours from around a month before they are due. This system has been a great help.”
While Nikon is renowned for its consumer cameras, this venture into agriculture showcases its diverse expertise. Beyond cameras, Nikon manufactures a range of products, including microscopes, X-ray systems, semiconductor systems, robot vision, and virtual production studios. The company has leveraged AI technology to enhance microscope imaging and has recently pioneered electronic watermarking technology to combat the misuse of fake AI images.