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Carrier WiFi

Cow-Fi, Anyone?

Managing wireless LAN networks can be bit like herding cats. But soon -- if a researcher from Dartmouth University has his way -- it may be more like herding cattle.

Yep, bringing new meaning to the term "field testing," Dartmouth’s Zack Butler has developed a wireless LAN system intended to keep cows in the fields where the farmer wants them to graze -- without the need for fences. The system works on the assumption that our bovine friends are really, really stoopid [ed. note: the cows say that the tests on Dan are going well, too]. The New Scientist reports that the cows are fitted with a collar with a handheld computer, an 802.11b card, a GPS transmitter, and a loudspeaker (!) onboard.

The collar transmits information about the cow’s location to a WiFi access point in the field. (Butler suggests that farmers could use solar power to run the equipment outdoors.)

If a cow wanders outside of its prescribed area, the collar “roars” at the animal, at which it is supposed to flee back into its field [ed. note: or start a stampede through town, one of the two].

Terrifyingly, a little research shows that this is not the only wireless-related cow technology in the works [ed. note: if you have a weak stomach we suggest you stop reading now].

In a Cronenebergesque twist, His Place Farms and the University of Virginia have “surgically implanted a solar-powered miniature Global Postioning System and a webcam in Cow #6's [ed. note: I am not a number!] digestive tract… aimed at discovering #6's dietary performance on the grasses of Reva, Virginia.”

That’s right, click on CowGutcam, and you can actually view the contents of a live cow’s stomach (one of them, anyway). Heidi is never going to be the same for us again.

— "Desperate" Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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