Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies Are Improving The Lives Of Pets
The future of animal healthcare won’t entail only futuristic hospitals equipped with cutting edge technologies, but also common objects, that pets and pet owners use daily, which will be installed with sensors to collect data continuously. Devices like pet feeders, water distributors, litter boxes, wearables, leashes and even toys will be able to communicate with each other and with the pet owners through mobile applications. They will be able to notify the users when a measurement is abnormal and to alert veterinarians in case of an emergency and if an animal is not improving by the current treatment plan. Moreover, they will provide personalised suggestions regarding the lifestyle routines of an animal like exercise and nutrition.
Considering the daily life of a pet in the modern urban environment, we know that in many cases an animal might spend a big percentage of the day alone at home. Apart from the loneliness and boredom that the animal will experience, in case of an illness the symptoms might go unnoticed for a long period of time till the pet is seriously sick. The internet of things (IoT) is being designed to ensure constant monitoring of the daily life of a pet with devices and appliances that belong to the concept of “smart home”.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The IoT has been defined by the International Telecommunications Unit as a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and interoperable information and communication technologies.
To put it simply, IoT consists of devices with sensors that can connect with each other. It provides the opportunity for various appliances and objects to communicate and create a connected world.
Currently, specific smart home elements are available and already equipped in many ultra modern apartments. For example, we can use CubeSensors, small elegant cubes equipped with different sensors that monitor and analyze the indoor environment including the air quality, humidity, temperature, noise, light and pressure. In the context of animal health, pets are spending most of their time indoors, signifying the importance of the environment in their health. The owner needs to be aware if the pet is exposed to noise during the day, if the temperature is too high or too low and if the air quality is harming the animal to try to find effective solutions.
Smart sensors will define the day of a pet.
Let’s see the most promising examples:
Petcube bites is a smart HD pet camera with a treat dispenser and voice control. It enables pet parents to stay connected to their pets throughout the day. The owners can see them, talk to them, throw them a treat and maintain a connection which will decrease the loneliness and anxiety that the pet feels. Such a device can be used to monitor pets that are in an unfamiliar environment, like a boarding kennel or an animal hospital.
This system provides also an Alexa built in feature which can assist pet parents with orders, seeking veterinary assistance and even play music for the pet while away.
Caremitou litter box
The caremitou box is a veterinary patented product being used at home by the pet parents. It is equipped with the caremitou pad which allows the sorting and collection of the urine, an easy way to bring a sample to the clinic for tests when needed. It also claims that it can measure and analyze 14 different parameters in the urine like colour, volume, pH, glucose, presence of blood etc, in a continuous manner. The box comes with a mobile application, which allows the visualisation of the collected health data to enable an early diagnosis of an illness.
MyQ pet portal
The myQ pet portal is a pet door that comes with a connected bluetooth collar sensor and a mobile application. It ensures that the dog will have access outside during the day, even if the owners are away. The system is triggered by the collar, which prohibits other animals from entering the house. The pet parents can control the ways that their dog is going in and out. The system includes two-way camera and audio, so that the owners can view in real time the outings of their pet.
Picture from: Dailymail
Felcana Go is an activity monitor for dogs and cats which comes with a mobile application that enables the visualisation of the collected data. It tracks the daily activity of the pet and the amount of burnt calories. It also enables the pet parents to set personalised goals regarding the daily exercise of their pet. In addition, it alerts the owner in case it detects alterations regarding the usual activity of the pet which could be an indication of illness. As such it helps early detection and treatment of a series of conditions.
Wickedbone is a bone-shaped, smart and interactive gaming device designed to entertain dogs and engage them in playing. It operates in two different modes: 1) the drive mode, in which the owner is controlling the toy through a mobile phone application and 2) the interactive mode, in which no manual operation is needed and the toy responds to the dogs actions based on the types of touch. The battery lasts around 4 hours, which is a considerable amount of time if the dog stays alone at home during working hours.
Picture from: Barkytech
PupPod Rocker with feeder
PupPod feeder is a smart gaming system, which consists of a game, a feeder and a mobile phone application. It uses positive reinforcement tactics to stimulate the dogs intelligence and at the same time the feeding process is prolonged overtime. More specifically, the dog needs to solve various tasks on the rocker to receive rewards from the feeder. As the dog is learning the tasks become more difficult. The feeder is equipped with a camera, which provides footage in the application, so that the pet parents can watch their dog when away. Lastly, the mobile application documents the progress of the dog overtime in a simple report.
Picture from: k9ofmine
As broadband internet becomes widely available, the cost of internet connection decreases, the use of smartphones increases and technology costs are diminishing, more devices and appliances are being designed with wi-fi capabilities and equipped with various kinds of sensors. In addition, the number of households that includes pets is skyrocketing providing the perfect incentive for companies to invest in pet products.
An important topic to consider when discussing the IoT is the ways that the collected data is going to be processed, stored and analysed and who will have access to this data. Privacy issues will have to be addressed and the ways that the data is going to be used needs to be communicated effectively and in a transparent way.