Cow Chips and Politics

When not producing documentaries or political campaign media, I used to spend most of my time working a modest horse breeding and training farm just outside of Middleburg, VA. My neighbor had cows and I was constantly amazed at the amount of effort he would have to put into making sure those cows were in good health. In addition to the time required, the cost of treating them, the vet bills and medications, made it only a marginally profitable business.

So, I was shocked to learn that scientists in India had built software into a chip that hangs around a cow's neck to record and analyze the cow's "moo". The chip transmits the frequencies in the "moo" to a computer, which compares this "moo" to a database of other "moos" of healthy and sick cows. It provides the farmer with an analysis of the cow's health, or health challenges.

That got me interested in the science of bioacoustics, a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics. Usually it refers to the investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals and humans. Could that mean that the human voice could be analyzed by an app to reveal similar information?

Several years ago, I bought into the notion that GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) technology could be a measurement used in political focus groups to analyze the intensity of a group member's response to a series of TV spots. In the end, I thought the process was kind of crude (it measured the electrical charge given off by the body when viewing) and stopped using it as a reliable campaign tool.

Then my wife was invited to a crowdfunding campaign for a new app called Kijini.

Kijini apps are supposed to record a person's voice and compare it to a database of healthy and not-so-healthy people.

The Kijini truthfulness app is still in development, but the company claims their "truth in voice analysis" app will be able to detect truth or "truthiness," as Stephen Colbert calls it, live or on TV. It is supposed to be available at the end of this year, just in time for the 2016 Presidential campaign to kick in.

Imagine, cow and political manure measured together. Now that's political science.