Smart collar can track your pet in real time

CSIRO Data61

Thursday, 12 November, 2020

Smart collar can track your pet in real time

CSIRO’s Data61, the digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency, has announced it is developing a prototype smart pet collar in collaboration with agtech company Ceres Tag. The device will enable pet owners to accurately track the location of their animal from both short and long distances, and builds on work between CSIRO and Ceres Tag to develop smart ear tags for tracking livestock.

The prototype collar uses both Bluetooth and satellite communications, rather than one or the other, to track an animal’s movements in real time. Updates are sent to the owner’s phone via an app whenever their pet wanders outside of a boundary they’ve established.

“The Companion Collar uses Data61’s EIP (Embedded Intelligence Platform) and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology to determine if the pet is nearby, automatically switching to satellite communications when the collar is outside of the home network,” said Dr Phil Valencia, Senior Research Engineer at CSIRO’s Data61.

“Many devices only employ Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-based tracking, which often involve a community of people listening on their phones and sharing their location data with a service in order to report the tracking device. This method is also only suitable for short-distance monitoring.”

The other approach available on the market is a GPS-based tracker that requires a mobile plan. These devices are often expensive, rely on cellular coverage and use a large amount of power, requiring charging at least weekly.

The Companion Collar requires monthly charging on average, depending on the amount of activity the animal performs. Pets who remain within the virtual boundary set up by their owner will trigger the device’s automatic power-saving mode, but those who wander outside will cause it to switch to GPS location and direct satellite reporting. Other crucial information such as specific behaviours, out-of-the-ordinary activity and data for health metrics will also be monitored by the collar, with information being uploaded to the cloud and displayed on a smartphone app.

“Owners will get valuable insights into how their pet has behaved throughout the day, with the system identifying if the animal’s activity is above or below its typical levels, and whether it was significantly different at a certain time of day,” Dr Valencia said.

Lewis Frost, Ceres Tag Chief Operating Officer, said insights will lay the foundation for personalised pet treatment and medication, suggesting the collar will improve the health and welfare of domestic pets.

“Ceres is leveraging all its learnings from the livestock smart tag development to create a superior product in the companion animal market utilising the skills of our very capable development team,” Frost said.

Image credit: ©

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