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BuzzBites: Brokeback Biometrics

Tracking cattle with retina scanning technology. And could technology keep the best and brightest students engaged in science?

Brokeback Biometrics

Branding bovines with hot irons is so old hat. Today's ranchers can take advantage of Optibrand's OptiReader, which uses LEDs to scan a farm animal's retina, then sends the data at 19 fps (frames per second) to a handheld computer using IOGear's Bluetooth adapter. The handheld contains a GPS satellite receiver, so latitude, longitude and a time/date stamp are encrypted and become part of the image record.

A cow's retina is as unique as a human fingerprint. If an animal with a retinal scan on file contracts bovine spongiform encephalopathy--mad cow disease--authorities can track the affected animal and quarantine it. Time to quit the branding irons. --Lorna Garey lgarey@nwc.com


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