That’s not a sheep, it’s a WiFi router! (It’s also a sheep.)
If you’re reading these words right now, odds are good that you believe the internet has pervaded far too many facets of our daily lives. Personally, I sometimes feel as if I have a Twitter feed directly embedded in my hippocampus – and this is not, for the record, a pleasant sensation. Can we all take a deep breath and agree that maybe there doesn’t need to be internet everywhere – like, for example, in the middle of the damn Grand Canyon?
However, in more far-removed parts of the planet, any internet access — and all of the many benefits it carries — is hard to come by. So scientists are developing technology for animals like reindeer and sheep to be used as actual wireless routers to expand networks in rural areas.
Tove Danovich writes for The Atlantic:
Sensor networks also allow people to cheaply monitor agricultural operations, flocks of animals, as well as pollution or flooding. “This technology is huge for agriculture,” Blair says. “It can help you be very precise about when you’ll apply pesticides and monitor the state of plants.” Large-scale farmers could monitor their flocks remotely. Environmentalists could cheaply study air or water pollution on a long-term basis. Because areas that never had cellular connection (much less wireless Internet) can still take advantage of linked sensor networks, farmers in developing countries would finally have access to the same technology as the connected world.
And before PETA trots out an elaborate Save the Sheep!!!! campaign, chill: This technology carries minimal risk to the animals. (Disclaimer: Possible side effects for sheep may include decreased attention spans and long, ruminanty Facebook posts.)
Is it a matter of time before people start attaching wireless transmitters to their pets so that they can gorge on Snapchats, unhindered by the claws of a data plan, smack in the middle of a dog park? Personally, I can’t wait for the day when my future child brings home a stray sentient router to hack — for its password, not its meat! Jeez!