Digital dogs: Wearable tech for pets could be the next billion dollar industry

The wearable technology market for humans is only just beginning to take off, with the industry predicted to generate $3bn this year. However, wearable technology for animals is the latest trend, and is fast becoming the next billion dollar tech industry.

For retailer,s the spending on our pets is growing to dizzying heights. Last year alone in the US a barking $55.7bn was spent on pets and in the UK pets had £300m ($495m) spent on them at Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, tech entrepreneurs are trying to capitalise on the panda-monium of the lucrative pet and animal care industry.

At present much of the wearable tech for animals is being made for dogs, but other animals are also starting to feel the benefits of the technology. This week Scottish company Silent Herdsman announced a £3m investment to develop their smart collars for cows.

Here we list some of the most useful, and in some cases just weird, pet technology looking to break into the market.

Mobile fat camp for dogs 

fitbark

It’s easy to over-pamper a pooch and end up with a dog that’s a little on the heavy side, so FitBark aims to help you keep your dog in shape.

The tiny doggie activity monitor, which weighs 8g and clips onto a collar, allows you to see your dogs playtime, compare it with other dogs and even compare fitness levels with your own.

In its successful Kickstarter funding drive the FitBark raised more than $80,000.

What your dog is thinking

Dogs are complicated creatures and beyond barking at an empty food bowl they struggle to communicate their feelings with us.

But, this is about to change with Voyce – which can tell you what your dog is thinking.

The device also provides details on heart rate, respiratory rate and activity, calories burnt and more.

The remote dog walker

auburnuniversity

For the lazy Auburn University, US, have created the perfect device for walking your dog – that means you don’t have to get up out of your chair.

Researchers from the university have created a backpack remote control system that you can strap onto your dog.

The device includes commands that will be given to the dog in audio or vibrations; it also allows you to track the dog’s GPS position meaning you’ll never have to go for walkies in the rain again.

Milking it: keeping track of your cow’s moovements 

At its very simplest the Silent Herdsman is a necklace for cows, but in reality it is a lot more than that.

The wearable tech is a monitoring system for cows that allows famers to keep track of their cattle. It can track whether a cow is in heat, where they are and their movement, and the company hopes it will make owning cows more profitable for farmers.

This week the company announced a £3m ($4.9m) investment led by Scottish Equity Partners and believes there is a market opportunity of more than $1bn per year.

Vibrating dogs: app-based dog training

If you’ve ever wanted to be able to control your dog with an iPhone then Pet-Remote could be the tech you need.

A small remote, collar and smartphone is all you need to train your dog, according to Tractive who are behind the device.

By pressing a button on the remote your dog will feel vibrations from the collar, which apparently won’t hurt the pooch and in theory will make it stop what it is doing.

Missing moggies: cat tracking device

sticknfind

After being let out at night cats can disappear for days, popping into neighbours’ homes for feeding, getting affection from others or even getting lost.

StickNFind have produced a range of tracking stickers that can be put onto your cats collar to help locate it when it’s gone missing.

The stickers work with smartphones and use long-range Bluetooth to show the location of the missing moggy.

Tail lights: no more horsing around 

taillights

Although being pretty large, horses have never been the most brightly coloured animals.

One project, Tail Lights, to make horses and their riders visible to those driving on roads included attaching a series of LEDs to the back-end of an animal. For those endurance riders the lights would have lasted for up to 26 hours.

Unfortunately for equine fans the Kickstarter campaign for the lights failed to reach its target of £100,000 as it raised only a quarter of the target.


Featured image courtesy of Eric Sontroem via Flickr / Creative Commons Licence.


Futurama-style wrist communicator is your new all-in-one smart device

Once in a while a piece of technology comes along that you feel like you already know, not because it has already been done, but because it is so firmly rooted in science fiction and popular culture that it seems like it already exists.

The Rufus Cuff is the latest of these technologies. According to its makers, it is the first “wrist communicator”, a wristband that can both tether to a smartphone or work independently.

Although a fairly unique product, the Rufus Cuff feels straight out of science fiction, and is particularly reminiscent of Turanga Leela’s  “this thing I wear on my wrist” from the cartoon series Futurama and the Pip-Boy 3000 from the Fallout video game series.

Older readers may also see a similarity between the Rufus Cuff and cartoon police detective Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.

turanga-leela

The Rufus Cuff has many similarities to the tethered smart watches that are currently flooding the tech market. It has a built-in mic, speaker and camera, enabling the wearer to make voice and video calls while the device is tethered to their smartphone. An untethered version can even make voice and video calls over Wi-Fi.

However, the Rufus Cuff’s 3 inch screen offers some serious advantages over a conventional smart watch. The cuff runs on Android, so offers a complete web browser along with the ability to watch videos and download apps from Google Play.

It can also be used to send email and other messages: unlike smaller wearables, the screen size allows for a decent typing experience, and when tethered with Siri or Google Now-capable phones Rufus can even be used to dictate messages.

rufus-cuff

With both portrait and landscape display modes, the cuff has been designed to be worn on either the inside or outside of the wrist, which should make for a comfortable using experience – an obviously essential factor in a device intended to be worn most of the time.

The developers have clearly taken this into account, and are giving purchasers of the device on their Indiegogo page a wide choice of colours and finishes, starting at $229 (€166 / £138).

The cuff also has the obligatory fitness functions that appear to have become staple features for most wearables. It features GPS, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, allowing it to make full use of the many fitness apps in the Play store.

Other features include the ability to hook up to Bluetooth enabled products such as locks and lights, potentially making it the coolest way to get home and turn the lights on.

Although less than a week into its Indiegogo campaign, the Rufus Cuff is selling well, with more than 97 funders forking out to lay their hands on one.

This cuff has the potential to be a smart watch killer. Having discussed wearables with many different people, from developers and other journalists to tech-savvy consumers and more conservative gadget-skeptics, the number one thing said about smart watches is that they feel too small to be worthwhile.

Instead, the majority of people describe a larger touchscreen that they can wear on their wrist. A product, in fact, that is almost identical to the Rufus Cuff.


Images courtesy of Rufus Labs.