June 18, 2014, 9:22 PM — Sometimes you can teach an old dog collar new tricks.
A new pet collar developed and manufactured by startup PetPace can track vital signs and other health indicators in a dog (or cat) while at a clinic or in the pet's home and create an electronic health record of sorts for animals.
The wireless smart collar can also send alerts about potential problems and help with early detection of diseases and behavioral problems, the company said.
"This is a product that is going to revolutionize veterinary medicine, as well as enhancing a pet owner's ability to recognize that their pet is becoming ill before they start showing physical signs," Dr. Teresa Lightfoot, director of BluePearl Science, said in a statement.
Lightfoot, who conducted clinical trials of the collar, said the ability to have real-time, continuous access to pets' vital information is "undoubtedly going to save pets' lives."
PetPace's tech collar has an array of contact sensors that continuously and automatically monitor temperature, pulse and respiration, as well as activity patterns, positions, calories, pain, heart rate variability and other physiologic and behavior parameters relevant to a pet's health and well-being.
The smart collar wirelessly transmits to a small antenna connected to a home's wireless router.
The smart collar comes in two versions: a professional one for vets and one for pet ownes. The Pro model allows wireless monitoring of multiple pets simultaneously and provides animal health professionals with immediate alerts sent to a centralized control center or directly to mobile devices as well as sophisticated analytics.
"If any cause for concern is detected, an alert is generated to designated recipients via text, email, phone or push notification to the mobile app," the company said.
PetPace uses proprietary Big Data software to analyze the information, which is automatically uploaded to a cloud service in real-time. The data is reviewed in the context of historical and breed-specific criteria and relies on a rule-based engine and data optimization.
The smart collar and monitoring service subscription retails for $150. There is also a $180 annual service fee. There is a separate fee for veterinarians to establish a business service for clients.
The home version transmits data to a web page where pet owners can log into to track their dog or cat's health. The "Pet Professional" system also allows a veterinarian to register pet owners to connect to a central online database, which then extends the vet's reach into the home, creating a type of electronic health record (EHR) for animals.
In addition to the early detection of health issues, the device can also watch pets with existing health problems, or those at risk of developing diseases. The cloud service can evaluate a condition, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure, as well as progress and response to treatment.
"Long-term monitoring will provide unprecedented, objective, quantifiable medical history to help with medical assessment of cases," the company said.
PetPace said it has already shipped dozens of systems to veterinary hospitals and to consumers in the U.S.
"We always strive to find ways to improve the service and the overall experience of our clients and their pets," Diane Tower, owner of Andover Animal Hospital in Andover, Mass., said in a statement. "The PetPace collar provides us with a great way to take frequent vitals without being invasive. The doctors, techs, owners and even the pets love it."
Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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