As well as making something for an individual animal, there are a lot of ‘makes’ that are helping the farmers and keepers of herds, flocks, and swarms (sadly I couldn’t find anything that is helping crows, as I wanted to use the collective term ‘murder’ in here). Nyalas (a type of antelope) in Marwell Zoo are being kept cosy more cost-efficiently by harnessing machine learning, thermal sensors, and a Raspberry Pi. The sensor takes an image of the bedding area, and the machine learning works out whether there’s a nyala there. If there is, it switches the heater on; if there’s not, it turns it off.
Sheep rustling (as in stealing, not making a crunching noise) is causing problems for farmers. A swallowable ‘pill’ containing an electronic identification device has been designed to help recover these animals. It stays in the sheep’s rumen – and doesn’t get digested. Because of the play on words, I have always been amused by the term ‘rustling’, but in the UK, livestock rustling is estimated to have cost the UK rural economy £2.5m in 2018.
Bee-keepers have also turned to tech makes. Temperature, mass sensors, and a connection to the internet can help the bee-keeper know if something is wrong with the hive, without having to open it up. Bees keep their hives at a pretty constant temperature. If it suddenly changes, there may be something wrong. Similar with mass – if the hive suddenly gets heavier, there may be an infestation of mites. Both of which are worth checking.
And don’t get me started on the robot dinosaurs at a theme park on the Isle of Wight …