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 


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


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


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 


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.

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Skydio unveils its obstacle-dodging, thrill-seeking, AI-powered drone

An autonomous drone startup founded by former MIT researchers has today launched its R1, a fully autonomous flying camera that follows its subjects through dense and challenging environments.

In a promotional video, launched to introduce the autonomous camera, R1 can be seen following an athlete as she parkours her way through dense woodland.

The drone’s makers Skydio have explained that the camera combines artificial intelligence, computer vision, and advanced robotics and works by anticipating how people move, so R1 can make intelligent decisions about how to get the smoothest, most cinematic footage in real-time.

“The promise of the self-flying camera has captured people’s imaginations, but today’s drones still need to be flown manually for them to be useful,” said Adam Bry, CEO and co-founder of Skydio.

“We’ve spent the last four years solving the hard problems in robotics and AI necessary to make fully autonomous flight possible. We’re incredibly excited about the creative possibilities with R1, and we also believe that this technology will enable many of the most valuable drone applications for consumers and businesses over the coming years.”

Launching today is the Frontier Edition of R1, which is aimed at athletes, adventurers, and creators.

This version of R1 is powered by the Skydio Autonomy Engine, enabling it to see and understand the world around it so that it can fly safely at speeds of upto 25mph while avoiding obstacles.

The autonomous drone is fitted with 13 cameras, which gives it the ability to map and understand the world in real-time, allowing it to be fully autonomous and independently capture footage that in Skydio’s words “once required a Hollywood film crew” and will “enable a new type of visual storytelling”.

The R1 “Frontier Edition” is available for order now on Skydio’s website for $2,499.