This week, tech companies across the country are showing off their hottest wares at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s kind of like an annual tech Mecca, where the newest, shiniest tech toys are put on display for the first time.
It doesn’t take much to notice that somewhere in the past 30 years or so, computers went from big beige boxes that were a symbol of The Man’s soul-crushing dominion over your life to fashion statements representing your ability to break free of said soul-crushing dominion. (Never mind that the new computers allow you to work 24/7.) The latest trend in making tech feel stylish and cool is called “wearable computing.” The most well-known example is Google Glass, upon which opinions are divided: To some people it’s a sign that you’re on the bleeding edge of tech, while to others it’s the equivalent of a “Borg mullet.”
The obvious next step after Google Glass is to put wearable tech on your pets. Jeff Noce, president of i4C Innovations, is one of the people who’s taking that step. Noce is at CES this year promoting Voyce, a device that goes around your dog’s neck and monitors vital signs, including heart, respiration, and how many calories have been burned while dashing around the yard chasing the local cats.
Noce says that the reasoning behind Voyce is that dogs treat their health pretty much the same way I do: They swallow all the discomfort and hide their symptoms until they’ve become unbearable and the condition requires serious treatment.
“By the time you actually notice something at home (the issue) is much further along than it would be with humans,” he said in an interview with USA Today.
The idea is that Voyce will provide a constant, long-term record of the dog’s health that can be given to vets so that they can spot gradual changes in health before they become real problems.
The technology that Noce is talking about is complicated, and there’s no doubt that there are a lot of kinks to be worked out before it’s common to see a Voyce on sale at the local pet shop, or even on Amazon. However, unlike the farcical con game of the No More Woofs project, Noce at least has working models to show off at CES, and the logistical problems could plausibly be overcome.
Voyce is neither the first attempt to bring wearable tech to your dog, nor is it likely to be the last. Last year, our sister site ReadWrite’s Editor-in-Chief Owen Thomas reviewed an app called Whistle that allows dog owners to track how much their pets are exercising. Another startup called Swifto combined a dog-walking service with tech, so that you use your smartphone to track where the walkers took your dog. One feature of Swifto, possibly the result of too many late-night development sessions, would send a “poop alert” to your phone via text when your dog did his or her business. And Sony, working on the logic that everything must have a camera these days, came up with the AKA-DM1, a video camera which could be strapped to your dog so that you could record a dog’s-eye view of a walk in the park.
Poop alerts and doggie cams might not add that much to the canine experience, but if Voyce works out, it could have some practical benefits for dog owners.