Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dog Tech: The Silliest Wearables

The world of pet wearables is constantly growing, and there have been some major successes and some major failures. Along the way, there have also been some that are...outside the box. Most "smartcollars" are intended to monitor your pet's location, health, or both. Let's take a look at some products that do something else entirely...
Photo by Erin Koski

DogStar TailTalk

Let's take the concept of a smart collar, but put it on the other end, ok? I'm not kidding, TailTalk was intended to strap onto your dog's tail on order to translate wagging into emotion. 

There's a surprising amount of scientific study on the topic of dogs and tail wagging. Most studies seem to conclude that dogs wag asymmetrically, and the side to which they wag more at a given moment is indicative of their emotional state. TailTalk took that concept and ran with it, creating a tail-mounted band and smartphone app to record the motion of your dog's tail. Unfortunately, their Indiegogo campaign didn't really take off. I can see why, I'm having a tough time seeing the appeal of this product. Might have something to do with Sisci Godzilla's deficiency in the tail department.


This is a another wearable that is not a collar. Inupathy is basically a hybrid between a dog harness an a mood ring. It uses heart rate variation analysis to read your dog's emotional state, and the colored and moving lights to express that emotional state. Calm? Blue. Excited? Red. Happy? Rainbows! This one also has an app that records your dog's feelings over time, plus it has suggestions for fun games for you to play together. 

I actually want one of these. At its core, Inupathy is a heart rate monitor that records for 4-8 hours at a time, and looks way more comfortable than any heart monitor I've ever had to wear. Among other cool things, the company invites other developers to use the heart rate data collected for their own apps. This one is $250, more than I'm willing to spend on something primarily cute and funny, but I'm watching carefully to see where it goes. The Indiegogo campaign missed its December 2016 release date, and has pushed the release back to March 2017.

The Cowlar

Ok, this one's not even for dogs, but I absolutely love that it exists. This is a smart collar for dairy cows. Described as a FitBit for cows, the Cowlar monitors temperature, activity, behavior, and will text you if someone is stealing your cow. This product is intended for worldwide use, and can make an automated call if the user is unable to read a text message regarding cow theft. The purpose is to improve yields for dairy farmers. The Cowlar has a six-month battery life so that farmer's don't have to worry about charging it.

I love the Cowlar, but the website leaves me with more questions that answers. Like, how easy is it to strap a collar on a milk cow? And how easy is it to get that collar off again in six months to replace the battery? What does the product actually look like? Has it been released yet? How affordable is it for farmers in developing countries? Is anybody making a smart collar for sheep yet? Why not?

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