Getting smart on smartphones

by on ‎01-08-2011 12:10 PM - last edited on ‎01-12-2011 12:37 PM by

Neil Mylet spends 8 hours a day working on his central Indiana farm. Then, he spends another 10 hours a day working his "other job" as founder of LoadOut Technologies, a "high-tech agricultural startup." When it comes to smartphones and similar digital technology on the farm, he knows his stuff.


Mylet spoke Saturday morning at AG CONNECT Expo. A packed room of farmers, crop advisers and machinery dealer representatives asked a lot of questions about the latest smartphone technology, what ag-specific tools are out there and how all their data that's passing through smartphones today and in the future will stay private and protected. On the latter point, Mylet said those reputable application developers out there are today taking data protection and privacy very seriously for more than one reason.

"Data is extremely valuable. With data colleciton and management comes the opportunity for developers to create some powerful applications," Mylet said. "Companies who deal in mobile app development have got to respect privacy."
Mylet also addressed other common concerns with using smartphones for more jobs on the farm. What about the durability of today's high-tech devices? It's one of the biggest concerns with smartphones on the farm, he said, but it can be taken care of easily with the right investments.
"Most phones are not built to withstand the harsh environment of agriculture," he said. "If you're making the transition to a smartphone, definitely invest in a good case. It's definitely worth the investment." (see more on one type of case, the Otterbox).
Looking ahead, as the number of ag applications for smartphones continues to grow, look for location-based services (LBS) -- like programs that can allow farmers to specifically track field conditions through geo-targeted photos and videos, for example -- to lead the way.
"LBS is going to be a huge player in the ag industry for mobile," Mylet said.
Even further down the road, smartphones will ultimately become even smarter. "Sooner or later, these devices will think for themselves," he added.