By  Fabienne Lang / interestingengineering.com

If you visit the RusMoloko dairy farm near Moscow, in Russia, you may think you’ve arrived at a bizarre futuristic film set. Here, cows supposedly roam around fitted with VR headsets.

The VR goggles aren’t props for a film, however. They have been specially made for these dairy cows to help them relax in order to produce more milk, according to a press release from Moscow’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

At least, that’s what was reported in a press release from Moscow’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food. But it turns out there are some reasons to be skeptical.

VR headsets as a useful productivity tool

As many sources (Interesting Engineering included) reported, the pressing issue of declining milk production led experts from the IT world, as well as industry leaders in milk production to work together to find a high-tech solution. 

That solution was virtual reality, where cows can watch a “unique summer field simulation program.” According to Agricultural Safety and Health, cows have poor depth perception. Creating a VR landscape that cows could navigate meant researchers had to take into account their higher perception of the color red, but weaker perception of blues and greens. 

Cows Are Being Fitted With VR Goggles to Increase Milk Production?
The VR goggles were made to fit the cows’ heads. Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region

In order to develop the simulation, researchers considered what contributed to a positive emotional state for cows. They looked at examples of dairy farms around the world and concluded that a calm atmosphere resulted in more milk production.

These VR goggles themselves were carefully designed by developers in a VR studio, alongside veterinarians. Taking into account the structural features of the cows’ heads, the typically human-fitting VR goggles were adapted to work for cows. 

After wearing their headsets, experts reported that the cows displayed a decrease in anxiety and an increase in the general mood of the herd. Today, the farm ranks within the top three largest milk producers in the Russian Federation.

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