Wearable tech is expanding beyond human-focused applications, with South Korea’s largest wireless operator SK Telecom delighting audiences at Mobile World Congress 2016 with a range of wearable gadgets designed to track cats' and dogs’ wellbeing and whereabouts.
A smartphone-connected fitness tracker, a programmable robot to keep the dog company when no-one is at home and a GPS tracker enabling the dog owner not only to see where a lost dog is, but also to talk to it, are all part of SK Telecom’s smart pet products range.
The fitness tracker, which retails for $70, can be easily attached to the dog’s collar. It is equipped with acceleration and gyro sensors that monitor the pet's every move. Through a smartphone app, available for both Android and iOS, the dog owner can see at the end of the day whether the animal has had enough exercise and compare that statistic with its calorie consumption. The owner can then decide whether an additional walk or run is necessary to ensure the pet stays fit and toned. The app also provides weekly and monthly stats and keeps track of the duration and distance covered in individual walks, much like Apple's Fitness Tracker app for humans, included on the iPhone and Watch.
The SK Telecom app communicates with the tracker via Bluetooth. The canine fitness tracker already has approximately 10,000 users in South Korea.
Friendsbot, the second product on display at MWC 2016 (although not yet commercially available), could make up for the lack of physical activity in the case where the dog owner is too busy. Essentially a high-tech ball, the robot can be programmed via a smartphone app to change colour and move around in various ways to entertain the animal and provoke it to play. For now the robot can be pre-programmed to be active at pre-selected times, but the maker hopes to eventually enable real-time remote control.
Finally, the GPS tracker, which communicates with the dog owner’s smartphone via the 3G mobile network, is not yet available outside South Korea. It also comes paired with an app that visualises the location of the dog in case it gets lost. The tracker is fitted with a speaker, which enables the owner to remotely give voice instructions to the animal, hopefully compelling it to return home.