Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Looking after your dog, with data

In my day job, I work on a software product that is aimed at vets (in case of interest it's a cloud-based practice management system that also uses big data algorithms to make the data meaningful. It's pretty cool - if you're an animal nerd or a data nerd. I'm both, so double win.) One of the most interesting elements of what I'm doing at the moment is based around "dog wearables", the output from them, and how they have a role to play in preventive healthcare for pets. There are several either on the market or close to launch at the moment, each with their own strengths. Thy're the canine equivalent of the jawbone or fitbit and track similar metrics - where the human ones are largely glorified pedometers, with the advanced ones (like the Atlas Wearable) also learning "other" activities, the canine ones are generally:
  • an accelerometer unit which can determine how much your dog is moving and resting (e.g. Fitbark or Whistle)
  • a GPS unit that tells you where the dog is (e.g. Dog Tracker or the new Whistle with inbuilt GPS, to be released in 2015)
  • vital signs monitoring hardware that measures the dog's heart and respiratory rates (e.g. Voyce)
These things are mostly just for interest now, but I genuinely think that at some point in the near future the output from the various types will be available in a format that can be used by vets and owners to monitor the ongoing health of an animal and be an early detector of changes related to illness, injury or age.

I'm about to have a Whistle (current iteration without GPS) shipped over from the States, to see what it makes of Daisy. My long term goal is to try all of these different types of hardware out to see which provides the most useful info in terms of looking after a dog, so watch this space...

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