Japan’s Farmnote launches wearable device for cows to optimize dairy farming with AI

Cows wearing the Farmnote Color device
Image credit: Farmnote

See the original story in Japanese.

Obihiro, Hokkaido-based Farmnote, developer of a cattle management system utilizing the cloud, this week announced the launch of a wearable device utilizing AI (artificial intelligence) for cows, called Farmnote Color. In addition, establishment of Farmnote Lab for research on utilization of AI / IoT (internet of things) was announced; it is not only for cattle management but also for the agricultural industry as a whole.

By affixing the Farmnote Color wearable device on a cow’s neck, real-time data about cow behavior is automatically acquired. The data is analyzed by AI on the cloud and the results are informed via user smartphone. This service aims to realize easier and smarter cattle management by owners.

It is especially important for users to spot estrus and signs of illness upon raising cows. Precise recognition of estrus and ovulation as well as the timing for artificial insemination can be specified.

Farmnote founder Shinya Kobayashi explains:

Farmnote CEO Shinya Kobayashi delivers a pitch at Zenkoku Startup Day in Sapporo, Hokkaido. (September 2014)

Once bovine estrus is observed, information will be sent to the user smartphone. By collecting various data including movement, sleep or rumination, estrous behavior is specified by detecting changes in the activity amount through algorithm use.

The Farmnote app developed by the firm tracks cow conditions by recording activities in logs. In addition, the wearable device Farmnote Color will support acquisition of more detailed information about real-time activities.

Although users have to record the log on smartphones because bovine activity conditions must be confirmed by humans, the sensors provide supplemental information.

The lifespan of Farmnote Color’s batteries is three years and users only have to affix them on cows during that period.

Farmnote Color costs 29,800 yen (about $290) each and is expected to increase the turnover by 20-30%, especially at a dairy farm that had lax management in place, according to Kobayashi. He elaborates that one cow generates 1 million yen ($9,800) as sales amount and 100,000 to 150,000 yen (about $980-1,450) as net profit. If an increase or stability in profit can be achieved by investment into Color, quite a few farmers may come to evaluate its investment value.

See also:

Farmnote Lab: leveraging huge data for agriculture


Farmnote has currently been developing services focused on cattle, but Kobayashi says that the final objective of the firm is ‘to become agriculture’s Google.’

Kobayashi concludes:

We aim to expand our system into fields other than cattle by aggregating data acquired by sensors on the cloud, analyzing it by AI, then informing it to user smartphones. In the future, by aggregating and analyzing huge data acquired from various channels including agricultural drones or other sensors, we will investigate what kind of data is valuable for farmers.

To realize this, the firm established Farmnote Lab inside group company Skyarc which is a system developer for business use, in order to research and develop AI / IoT for agricultural industry.

The firm has this time raised 300 million yen (about $2.9 million) as business loan from Obihiro Shinkin Bank and Japan Finance Corporation, totaling slightly under 600 million yen (about $5.9 million) so far. There are now 19 staffers working at its offices in Obihiro, Sapporo and Tokyo combined.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy