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Southwest Japan univ. develops smart glasses to visually estimate pigs' weight

The glasses used to visually estimate pigs' weight are seen in this image provided by the University of Miyazaki.
A screen with data collected by the glasses is seen in this image provided by the University of Miyazaki.

MIYAZAKI -- The engineering department at a university in this southwest Japan city has developed a set of glasses that use artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology to visually measure pigs' body mass.

    The glasses, devised by professor Kikuhito Kawasue at the University of Miyazaki's Faculty of Engineering, allow for simple visual estimates of a pig's weight as a dressed carcass -- which influences the animals' trading prices. There is no precedent anywhere in the world for equipment like this, and it's hoped the devices will ease the burden of labor on farmers and lead to more secure income for them.

    According to professor Kawasue, if a pig weighs 115 kilograms at the point of shipment, it's highly likely to fetch the highest grade. But because pigs consume about 3 kilograms of feed each day, and also need to take in about 15 liters or more of water, there can be significant deviations in their actual body weight.

    Until now, getting pigs onto scales required strenuous work from two or three people. But with the glasses, one person can apparently quickly and accurately assess the animals' weight.

    The glasses are made from a combination of technologies, including a 3D camera for taking measurements, and smart glasses for displaying the numerical data. To calculate a potential carcass weight, a pig's body-shape data collected by the 3D camera is compared against a standard model. The estimated body mass appears on the smart glasses in real time. The margin of error is reportedly within single-digit percentages, and an international patent application is underway.

    Professor Kawasue said, "I want to aim to make this a commercial product within at least two years." He says he will investigate in the future how to improve the device's accuracy.

    (Japanese original by Kenta Somatani, Miyazaki Bureau)

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