BEAMING a hologram of a stud bull onto your verandah in order to thoroughly check him out before making the decision to drive hundreds of kilometres to a sale might sound futuristic.
But then, not so long ago the idea of a smart phone running our lives was new age.
And before that, being able to tap into a world wide web of information via a computer seemed like a grand vision firmly in the sphere of centuries far, far down the track.
Digital crusader and entrepreneur Tim Gentle believes the next generation of content consumption tapping on our doors has big potential for agriculture.
Not only can it overcome the big distance challenges Australian producers face but it has untold potential to bridge the knowledge gap between consumers and the farmgate, he believes.
It has the ability to “make ag sexy” and draw a new, digital-loving generation into a farming career.
His ultimate vision: Farmers teaching farmers and thus feeding the world better.
Mr Gentle is famous for converting a bus he won in a social media competition into a mobile classroom and taking it through outback Australia to teach rural and regional communities about the possibilities the digital world holds.
Now he is using the same technologies to bring the farming world back to the consumer and young person in the city via his innovative virtual reality farm experience creation, Farm VR.
In a “wait, there’s more” style presentation at this year’s Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association conference in Alice Springs, Mr Gentle took beef producers on an immersive content journey.
His ideas of how the likes of 360 degree photography and video and virtual and augmented reality can open doors for the cattle game were awe inspiring.
Livestock marketing agency Elders has already grasped the new ways, producing 360 degree picture and video allowing prospective buyers to peruse products from all angles and from anywhere, he said.
Virtual reality is a step further up the ladder, where anything from weed spraying to milking and shearing or even flying a drone can be simulated.
The potential for agriculture training was limitless, according to Mr Gentle.
But his frank assessment was that VR would be quickly superseded, perhaps in the space of just two or three years, with augmented reality.
This allows people to physically be in a world, via headsets used like glasses, augmented with digital vision. It’s technology that layers computer-generated enhancements into our reality.
It’s walking through a new set of cattle yards before they are built, being guided through the fixing of machinery and, of course, wandering around a potential new bull in the luxury of your lounge room.
“Aligning this with the school curriculum will have an incredible effect - this enables us to actually place a cow in the classroom,” Mr Gentle said.
“You had print, then radio, then television, then computers and now we have immersive content - it’s the next level.”