Humans have domesticated dogs for tens of thousands of years. According to recent research out of Oxford University, humans had dogs even before we had permanent dwellings, agriculture or writing. Over the course of history, pets have become increasingly humanized. 70 percent of all households in the U.S. now own at least one pet and we treat them as members of our families. Research firm IbisWorld’s report on pet stores in 2012 found that people began viewing their pets as “humans” and referring to themselves no longer as “owners” but as “pet parents around 2006. This trend is the major reason why the pet industry continued to thrive, even during the recession.
We shower them with affection, go on adventures together, groom them and feed them with care. Some of us even dress our pets up in clothes and let them sleep in our beds. We treat them to dog beer, offer cat counseling, and hold pet weddings. We take care of them, and in their own way, they take care of us.
However, no matter how closely connected we feel to our pets, barriers remain— communication between humans and dogs is limited. We may be able to understand when they are hungry (barking near the bowl at dinner time) or to see if something is clearly wrong (a paw stuck in a hole), but there is a tremendous amount that we don’t know.
A majority of barks go unheard or misunderstood by humans. Ruby may be making a lot of noise, but it can be easy for humans to ignore or disregard it when there is not a clear cause, and get annoyed if/when it continues. Conversely, most dogs cannot elicit different barks for different needs. Hunger, cold and fear all sound the same. Until these communication barriers are overcome, there is only so close we can become.
Today, advanced pet collars are bringing the humanization of pets to the next level. These collars come equipped with a range of sensors, including thermometers, accelerometers, microphones, that collect information about pets, such as when they are hot/cold, thirsty, restless, or sleepy. The collars take measurements from the different sensors and over time gain understanding into what their patterns are. Dogs are not like humans in that they generally follow a program about things like when to pee.
By identifying these patterns, the collar builds a schedule and draw conclusions about a dog’s well being and mood. It then communicates this information to the pet’s owner. Rather than wondering what’s wrong with Snuggles, you can look at her collar and see she is sick. And instead of wondering why Rex is barking, you can look at his collar and know that he wants a walk. Smart collars enable pets to communicate their needs, and enable humans to understand those needs, like never before. By bridging these communication gaps, advanced pet collars break down the barriers between pet and human, so they can live more effectively together.
Furthermore, advanced pet collars also give humans better insight into when something is wrong or their pet is in danger. GPS technology notifies a pet owner when their dog has gone astray and helps find them when they are lost. And the sensors let an owner know when their dog is overheating, in immediate need of water, or in a tussle with another dog. Armed with this information, owners can take action to address those threats. Problems no longer go unnoticed.
The benefits of improved communication are manifold. On a primary level, it means humans can better ensure their dog’s health, safety and happiness. In addition, clearer communication enables pets and humans to form stronger bonds. The smart collar helps pet owners address their pets’ needs more quickly. Dogs won’t get punished for barking or peeing in the house because the owner was able to pre-empt those behaviors. This leads to dogs, as well as humans, that are less frustrated and more relaxed. Everyone is happier. Humans ability to understand the needs of their pets will be on par with their ability to understand their fellow humans.
As the technology advances, so will humanization. Going forward, we will be able to build sensors on the collar that can actually detect brain activity and based in patterns, understand the brain’s emotional state. Communication is what makes us human, and by elevating the quality of communication, smart collars integrate pets more thoroughly into our families.
By: Leon Yohai