AT&T is powering a unique IoT system: Cows connected with smart sensors

AT&T is using its 5G network to power a unique type of connected device designed specifically for dairy farmers. The hardware comes from smaXtec, which describes it as a small smart sensor that cows physically swallow. The sensor stays in the cow's first stomach where it monitors the animal's health and provides the data to farmers.

Though Internet of Things systems are most commonly found in homes, the technology is being leveraged in a number of industries for a wide variety of purposes: monitoring when dumpsters in cities need to be emptied, keeping tabs on air quality, detecting when store inventory is running low, and more. One of the most interesting examples of how IoT connectivity can be leveraged involves AT&T, a company called smaXtec, and a bunch of dairy cows.

SmaXtexc designed a small tube-shaped sensor that cows can safely swallow. Once located in their first stomach, the sensor gathers data on key health metrics, including the cow's movements, PH levels, body temperature, and rumination. The data is delivered using AT&T's IoT connectivity platform to farmers who access the information on a mobile app.

The idea is that smart technology like these sensors gives farmers the opportunity to intervene at the first signs of potential illnesses in their dairy cows, potentially helping avoid the use of antibiotics and preventing the spread of diseases. As well, the same sensors can also provide key details that help warn farmers hours to days before a cow gives birth, ensuring any necessary medical assistance is available.

According to smaXtec, farmers can access their herds' data using a web interface in addition to the mobile app. Details are provided in "near real-time." This is only one example of how IoT technology is being used by the agricultural industry; farmers are using similar hardware and connectivity to monitor soil conditions and contamination, for example, helping prevent crop losses and optimize production.

In a statement about the unique use of the company's network, AT&T's John V. Slamecka said:

The IoT applications which can be enabled by AT&T's global network never cease to amaze me. In this case the smart solution developed by smaXtec is delivering its priceless data from inside the cow. Animals that had to be inspected and monitored in person can now be checked remotely, saving farmers time and money. It's a fantastic example of what can be done when a customer harnesses the scale of AT&T's IoT connectivity.