Wearable M2M Technology Now for Pets Too

By Tracey E. Schelmetic June 10, 2013

The potential marketplace for machine-to-machine (M2M) networking is nearly beyond comprehension at this point. As the world gets more Internet-connected and increasingly full of devices capable of making wireless Web connections, the applications keep popping up like dandelions on a freshly mown lawn.

M2M technology is expected to usher in the widely discussed concept “the Internet of Things,” or “IoT,” a term coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, former cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT. IoT refers to the networking of items we use every day, enabling them to track the movements and actions of people and products and draw business data – and actionable conclusions – from the information.

We’re already partway there. Think how many of today’s high-end cars can communicate information about condition or maintenance to wireless apps on driver’s smartphones; mobile phone users can use an app to control lighting, temperature, security and other functions within their houses remotely; and medical monitoring devices worn on the body can communicate a patient’s vital signs directly to his or her healthcare practitioner.

Fitness has big an enormous market for M2M technology: there are fitness monitors aplenty, many of them worn on the body as “wearable computing” technology and then communicating information about activity, fitness, heart rate and other info to apps on the wearer’s wireless devices.

M2M devices also come in handy in parenting: there are tiny transmitters available to be dropped into Billy or Suzie’s backpack that can be tracked with a smartphone app, allowing parents to know where children are at all times. (Or assist police in case of abduction.)

But there’s one group that has thus far been left out of the M2M revolution: pets. This is no longer the case, thanks to a new device that can be put on a pet’s collar and communicate to the pet owner’s smartphone. Want to know how much exercise Duke is getting? Worried that Fluffy is sleeping too much? Unsure if Mr. Tibbles is visiting the food bowl too often?

Whistle is an iPhone app that works in conjunction with the collar monitor. Launched last week, Whistle measures an animal's activity throughout the day, tracking changes over time and comparing exercise levels with other dogs of the same breed. The goal, say its makers, it to help detect early medical problems by showing changes in a dog's activity level and behavior compared to other animals of the same age, breed and weight, according to Reuters.

The app is meant to show the true picture of a pet’s activity, not the owner’s often emotional, erroneous or hopeful interpretation of it.

“What [veterinarians] get today are hyperemotional responses, often driven by one or two anecdotes," said Ben Jacobs, CEO of San Francisco-based Whistle. "What we found out was that: a) vets didn't really have the information they needed, and b) there's no breed weight and age standards," he told Reuters.

The company also says the monitor can help uncover pertinent health information about pets that might not normally be observed: whether the animal is suddenly experiencing changing sleep patterns, for example.

The Whistle monitor costs $99.95 and the app is free for iPhones.

Edited by Alisen Downey

IoTevolutionworld Contributor

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