A new health collar or chip may be the next big accessory for dogs, and humans.
Sleep, eat, run, repeat. More often than not both you and I have envied a dog’s life. It is to no one’s surprise that, in this day and age, a dog’s life may even include a spa treatment, a colourful new jacket or even a goose feather duvet. After all, they are man’s best friend and watchdog. But how far should it go?
Monitor your dog 24/7
A new health product will enable us to become our own dog’s watchdog. Information concerning your dog’s heart rate, temperature, respiration, activity patterns, number of calories burned and even the length of time spent in a certain position will be available with just a touch of a button. The monitor, disguised as a dog collar, was developed by U.S.-based PetPace in Massachusetts.
The product’s software records data for all the measurements throughout the day and then compares it to the average breed-specific data. If any of your dog’s data diverges from the average then you will be sent a message alert on your phone and your vet will also be informed. PetPace also mentions that the monitor can be useful for vets when checking whether a treatment is effective or not. The collar comes at the hefty price of $150 (€110) and a further $15 (€11) per month for the service charge.
Whether this monitor will cause more worry than necessary is a matter of debate. I for one would only see this product as beneficial, if at all, for older dogs or cats that are at greater risk of illness. But even then, I don’t think I will be purchasing this for my 10 year old dog.
A collar for humans?
Forget the fitness trackers worn on your wrist or clipped to your belt. 2014 has brought us something more hi-tech. Professor John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Professor Yonggang Huang of Northwestern University in the U.S. have developed a health monitor for humans that comes in the form of a stick-on skin patch.
As small as your thumbnail, it can be used to monitor your temperature, heart or brain, depending on where it is placed on your body. The engineers compared the patch to the bulky, uncomfortable sensors used today in hospitals and found it to be just as effective. This could prove highly beneficial for premature newborns, patients requiring long-term supervision or for those being monitored during sleep tests or stress tests when the ability to move normally without restrictions is crucial.
This technology, epidermal electronics, could also be used to develop better fitness trackers. The current wristband monitors are not very accurate as they are not reliably coupled to the skin. For those of us who are not fitness fanatics, Professor Huang believes this device could also be used to detect disease before a full-blown onset, “If we can continuously monitor our health with a comfortable, small device that attaches to our skin, it could be possible to catch health conditions before experiencing pain, discomfort and illness”.
With the speed of technological advancement we see today, perhaps the saying “sick as a dog” will no longer be applicable to dogs or us in the nearby future. But, for now, I will enjoy not knowing what that strong cup of coffee, gin and tonic or even that slice of death-by-chocolate cake did to my health.
Xu S, Zhang Y, Jia L, Mathewson KE, Jang KI, Kim J, Fu H, Huang X, Chava P, Wang R, Bhole S, Wang L, Na YJ, Guan Y, Flavin M, Han Z, Huang Y, & Rogers JA (2014). Soft microfluidic assemblies of sensors, circuits, and radios for the skin. Science (New York, N.Y.), 344 (6179), 70-4 PMID: 24700852