Have you ever wondered what would happen if you strapped a Nike Fuelband onto your cat’s collar? A Pebble on your pitbull? A FitBit on your ferret?
Not only is “the quantified pet” a thing, it’s a whole industry: A recent report from IDTechEX anticipates that the pet tracker market will be worth $2.6 billion by 2025, and “Wearables for Pets” is already its own product category on Amazon. And why not? Our critters are extensions of ourselves, and we deserve the best, dammit. Thus, activity trackers, cameras, and a slew of other new wearable devices are being tailored to suit our furry friends.
In a sense animals have been sporting wearables longer than we have: Shock collars and microchips have allowed us to keep a remote eye on our pets for decades, while RFID tags and other electronic tools have long tracked the habits of agricultural and wild animals alike.
The new generation of animal wearables takes the next step. Here are five of the most interesting, forward-looking wearables for your best friend… and your beef cattle:
The best pet tracker for the Absentee Owner
Available in September, Otto Petcare Systems has developed a suite of digital tools that solve a number of modern pet ownership dilemmas, from a remote feeding mechanism to GPS dog collars. Otto’s delightfully Pavlovian Food Dispenser — equipped with a webcam and loudspeaker — syncs to a smartphone app, allowing owners to shout words of encouragement in their pet’s face during mealtimes. While one wonders if Fido would begin to love the Dispenser more than his owner, the convenience of moderating your pet’s food intake from happy hour is undeniable.
The best pet tracker for the Outspoken Pup
While not yet “dog park legal,” No More Woof, created by Sweden’s Nordic Society for Invention & Discovery, is a headset that translates your dog’s brainwaves into computerized speech. In other words, No More Woof reads your dog’s mind for you. No longer will you have to guess whether Susie wants to go out or wants food – she’ll be able to tell you! Barks, woofs, and whimpers will soon become a thing of the past — that is, until the NSID creates a “No More Sit” headset for humans.
The best animal tracker for the Mad Cow
Another experimental animal wearable comes to us by way of the cattle ranch: Quantified Ag’s connected tagging system allows beef cattle owners to remotely track the health of their herd, freeing time and energy traditionally spent checking each animal by sight. Seamlessly integrated with current beef cattle tagging best practices, Quantified Ag’s technology could quickly become an industry standard.
The best pet tracker for the Escape Artist
Far and away the most common type of pet wearable is the combination pet GPS locator/activity tracker – and for good reason. While your FitBit will not likely run out of the yard without you, your Doberman will. There are a number of these pet tracking devices with similar specs on the market, but Whistle’s Tagg GPS dog collar is the top of the heap. With text message alerts that notify owners whenever their dog leaves the defined “home zone,” Tagg handily eliminates the neighborhood search-and-rescue missions that defined many a suburban childhood.
The best animal tracker for the Jaws Fan
While not a wearable in the traditional consumer sense, OCEARCH’s satellite-powered shark tags have sparked public interest in tracking the real-time movements of sharks across the world. The tags send a geolocated ping to a satellite every time a shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water, reporting the shark’s whereabouts to OCEARCH researchers — and their fans.
OCEARCH gained some unexpected publicity this May when a Twitter account for one of the tracked sharks, @MaryLeeShark, began to interact with the public. Mary Lee, who was last seen off the coast of Virginia, now has over 80,000 followers and has traveled over 21,000 miles.