May 27, 2019
Stud stock sales could be streamed through virtual and augmented reality within the next 12 to 18 months as AuctionsPlus becomes the latest agribusiness company to reveal their collaboration with the new technology.
During the Australian Limousin Breeders Society's Capitalise on Carcase conference in Armidale last week, AuctionsPlus CEO Angus Street told attendees the online auction giant had bold plans to take their selling platform to an immersive level.
AuctionsPlus recently commissioned Farm VR founder and Think Digital owner Tim Gentle to create an immersive experience replicating a cattle assessment.
Now, their collaboration will launch the first fully immersive stud stock sale using virtual and augmented reality.
"Imagine whacking on a pair of VR (virtual reality) goggles, stepping into a virtual sale ring where there is a virtual bull or virtual ram sitting there," Mr Street told the conference.
"You can walk up to it, look around, turn it upside down, watch how it walks and pull up all the figures. You are able to transport yourself to the paddock where that bull is living, grazing, step out of that and whilst in that immersive experience place a bid."
While to many producers the concept may seem scary, Mr Street revealed that there were currently 20 million VR headsets in the world and by 2025 that number was expected to reach 500 million. It created a major opportunity for agriculture, he said.
AuctionsPlus currently work with accessors and agents to integrate 360 video. In March last year Elders announced they would become one of the first livestock agencies to offer 360 degree marketing to their clients through pre-sale auction inspections.
Mr Street said they already had seedstock producers seeking virtual reality technology.
"It's not probably the brainchild of Tim and myself, it's the customers...it's the industry looking to embrace new technologies and it's the seedstock customers looking to provide additional ways to purchase livestock that build trust in the purchase," he said.
"Because suddenly for us within AuctionsPlus we interface stud seedstock sales, we have video, we have audio but how can we take it one step further and truly connect the offline to online world and I think we can do that through VR and the seedstock producers that have expressed an interest are looking to do the same."
Speaking to Australian Community Media last year, Mr Gentle said the virtual reality auction live streaming would see prospective buyers sit ringside and view the sale from any angle.
Erasing lag times and dealing with the large file size of streaming were restrictions he was working to overcome.
"I think one day you will have that sort of hologram/augmented experience where the tractor you are thinking of buying can be positioned right next to you in your house and you're in Goondiwindi and it's in Coober Pedy," he said at the time.
AuctionsPlus ran its first sale in 1987, well before internet was available. Instead they used two kilometres of telephone wire, a generator running the fax machine and two way radios for the bids.
Mr Street said the business was known to push the boundaries and question the norms.
"A lot of people will think it's a bit of a gimmick and a bit ridiculous but as I said, it's really about pushing ourselves to lean into change and start to take steps forward," he said.
"We can either be standing still and put our head in the sand, run away from the fact that VR and AR are here or we can lean into it and have a crack at it.
"These technologies are coming at us a million miles. We need to be testing and trialling now so in five years time we are prepared...and the whole industry isn't left on the back foot."