Pet trackers have been around for ages, but Invoxia is looking to shake things up at CES 2022 with a new smart collar that can also monitor your dog’s vital signs. And of course, the smart collar also doubles as a GPS and activity tracker for your pooch.
Canine fitness trackers generally rely on a combination of accelerometers and GPS sensors. Invoxia’s approach is a bit different. To monitor vitals like resting respiratory and heart rate, Invoxia says it worked with board-certified veterinary cardiologists to develop deep learning AI that utilizes miniaturized radar sensors — the same type as the Soli radar Google used in its Pixel 4 phones. According to Invoxia CEO Amélie Caudron, the radars are ideal as they’re capable of taking readings regardless of how furry your dog is.
“There’s a radar that faces the neck and sends a radio signal, and that signal will not be reflected by the hair,” Caudron told The Verge. “So it doesn’t matter how much fur or hair there is, it’ll be reflected by the first layer of skin. So the radar will actually be able to know the speed and movement of the skin right under the collar.” Those movements are then fed into an algorithm that determines heart and respiratory rate.
Another plus, Caudron says, is that the collar can sit more loosely and comfortably around the dog’s neck. That’s not the case with the smartwatches and fitness trackers humans use, which require a tighter fit and good skin contact to get accurate heart rate readings.
Invoxia isn’t the only pet tech out there that tracks dog vital signs. Believe it or not, there are also continuous heart rate monitoring EKG vests, as well as the Petpace Smart Collar. However, those are more for veterinarians than regular pet owners and don’t include GPS tracking. (EKG vests may also require you to rub a conductive gel onto your dog, so good luck if you have a fidgety Fido on your hands.) The Invoxia collar stands out by combining a traditional GPS tracker with a noninvasive way to monitor vitals. It’s compatible with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and LTE-M, and features escape alerts and a built-in buzzer.
As for activity tracking, Invoxia says it already has four years of data collected from its original GPS Pet Tracker. On top of monitoring vitals, the collar can also track daily activity and identify when your dog is walking, running, scratching, eating or drinking, barking, and resting. It also has a removable fabric covering for easier cleaning if your dog happens to like running around in the mud.
That said, the Invoxia collar will mostly focus on your individual dog’s baseline. Thus far, continuous vital monitoring on dogs hasn’t really been possible at a large enough scale to customize based on breed — even though some breeds may be more predisposed to heart or respiratory conditions. However, Caudron isn’t ruling out that may be a possibility with more data.
As for why you might even want to know your dog’s vital signs, Invoxia says it could be useful for pets post-surgery, monitoring how pets might respond to medication, or for keeping an eye on those with known cardiac and respiratory illnesses. She also noted that often, owners notice something is wrong with their pets too late. Detecting anomalies in a pet’s baseline may help owners and vets catch illnesses early.
There is a catch, however. For now, the Invoxia collar is only for medium to large-sized dogs. That’s because it’s hard to miniaturize the radar tech to a size that would be comfortable and lightweight enough for smaller pets, like toy dogs and cats. (And if you’ve ever put a large tracker on a small dog, size and comfort make a huge difference.)
Invoxia says the collar is expected to be available in summer 2022. It’ll cost an estimated $99 for the collar itself and an additional $12.99 monthly subscription for GPS features.