The dog collar has never been all that tech savvy, and is usually just a bit of material that allowed owners to keep contact details with their beloved furry friends, but what if it could do a little more?
A couple of Australians think that might be something worth looking into and have this week launched a Kickstarter for a redesigned dog collar made for today, not yesterday.
It’s called the “Buddy” and it is an evolution on the dog collar because it adds a whole heap of technology, and not just for the sake of it.
For instance, there’s an LED strip in the collar with programmable lights, not just so you can make your pooch look cool, but so you can make them stand out and find them in the dark.
There are also sensors, and quite a few. You’ll find a light sensor, temperature sensor, movement sensors (three axis accelerometer), and even GPS tracking in one variation, with all of this coming together and communicating to phones and tablets information about the pet the collar is wrapped around the neck of.
For the “Lite” version, it’s a fitness tracker for a dog to find out how much exercise they’re getting, and if you need to throw the ball more often, while the “Fit” version pushes that a little more with an OLED display.
The GPS variation is the most exciting of the bunch, and throws a tracker in there to tell you where your dog is, which might be handy if you ever leave the gate open by accident, or a storm causes the pup to go running.
This technology comes together to form a dog collar available in small, medium, and large that will be durable and useful beyond that of just showing people your details when the dog gets lost, and it comes off the back of an idea two Aussie inventors had from a previous project, the PoochLight.
That product arrived a good year or two ago when Christopher Forcucci wanted to come up with a dog collar that could allow a dog to be visible, a problem he encountered upon riding his bike home and almost hitting the dog, instead riding into a river.
Buddy goes a little further, however, and sees Forcucci team up with a friend of his, Fulvio Cusumano, with the two of them conceiving the idea of a smart collar along the same lines as a smart band for humans.
“We wanted to expand on the safety aspect of the PoochLight, but then take it to a whole new level, to a place no pet tech company had ever been before,” said Cusumano.
“We wanted quality and something that could connect humans to their dogs in a way they’d never been able to before via technology. We started adding on function after function, like testing all different types of GPS modules for tracking them anywhere from the palm of our hands, OLED and LCD displays to visually see what kind of data we’re capturing and accelerometers, which allowed us to measure activity in us as humans and then adapt this technology to dogs to track their energy levels.”
“So we basically took the idea, and kept building on it until it reached a whole new level,” he said.
The result is the Buddy, a project that will offer a way of tracking the fitness levels of your dog, while also offering piece of mind as for where the dog is, whether it’s by sight using the LED lighting or with a GPS tracker when the pup has gone walkabout, or even run-about.
Possibilities for home automation are also being tapped, with the collar able to talk to smart locks and thermostats later on, as well as lighting in the home.
Battery is one part of the project that does need to be mentioned, and being an electric gadget does need power, while a conventional cotton or nylon dog collar does not, simply because it doesn’t do anything.
With that, the Aussie inventors are estimating a battery life of between 7 and 14 days, something dependent on how much GPS will be used, though there will be a charging dock for two of the versions, which will no doubt give the dog a little break from the problem of wearing clothes (the collar) when Buddy needs to be charged.
Other animals are the other big question, and that’s one being talked about right with regards to cats.
“The simple answer is ‘yes, it will work,’” said Cusumano, adding “in saying that, our main focus here is dogs.”
“We can walk dogs and I guess we can walk cats too, but our software and activity is focused around dogs and the way that they behave.”
If you’re keen, you need to know that this project won’t likely have a completion date this year, with the inventors expecting the product won’t be ready until closer to August 2016, though it is on Kickstarter now, starting at $245 for the Lite version, $325 for the Fit, and $405 for the GPS version.
That’s a fair sight more than your standard $30 collar, but it should do a whole lot more when it arrives next year.