Keeping an eye on pugnacious pigs

Notwithstanding their docile image in cartoons and literature (think Porky Pig from the Looney Tunes cartoons or Wilbur in the novel Charlotte’s Web), pigs can be surprisingly aggressive, as any hog farmer can tell you. Their belligerent behaviors become especially prominent when several unfamiliar pigs are penned together, as often happens after the pigs have been weaned. Being social animals, the pigs fight to establish a dominance hierarchy, butting and chasing one another to determine who gets the most food and space in confined quarters. These aggressive behaviors can be costly, as they result in injuries and, in the case of submissive pigs, a failure to thrive.

Mounted above the pig pens, the Kinect sensor captured infrared depth images of the pigs' behaviors.

 Mounted above the pig pens, the Kinect sensor captured infrared depth images of the pigs' behaviors.

And what, you may ask, does this have to do with Kinect for Windows? Well, researchers at Korea University in Sejong have devised an accurate, low-cost system that uses a single Kinect v2 sensor, mounted overhead, to monitor pig behavior in a commercial pigpen. During the study, the sensor’s depth images were fed into two binary-classifier support vector machines (SVMs), which recognized and classified aggressive behaviors with greater than 90 percent accuracy. Armed with this information, hog farmers could take action to curb the aggressive behaviors.

The Kinect v2’s infrared-based depth sensing proved ideal for monitoring behavior in a commercial pigpen, where heat lamps and artificial lighting can interfere with the quality of images from a standard RGB camera. The sensor provided the researchers with a real-time depth map showing the pigs’ position frame by frame, providing the SVMs with ample data to detect and classify aggressive behaviors.

The researchers touted both the accuracy of the system and its simplicity and low cost when compared to solutions that use stereo RGB cameras, and they plan to test the system more widely in commercial hog farms.

If you’d like to share information about a Kinect for Windows v2 solution that you’ve developed, contact us. We may be able to feature your story in a future blog.

The Kinect for Windows Team

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