Wearable health tech has gone to the dogs in an effort to better care for working K-9s.
There are 1,500 dogs working as part of the country's Customs and Border Protection department. They patrol airports, detect smuggled goods, and perform border and port preclearance security duties. The work is physically demanding and imperative to national security. In order to do their jobs effectively, they need to be in top physical condition, and the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to improve the way they're cared for.
A $198,000 award from the Science & Technology Directorate was given to PetPace LLC for sensor technology that will be used as wearable tech to monitor the animals' health. The company has developed a "health-sensing collar" and provides health-monitoring services based on data collected by the collars.
The collars track vital signs and physiological data, and PetPace then interprets that information for handlers. They can tell when a dog is being overworked, when he's stressed, and even when he's bored on the job. The goal is to then use that knowledge to better care for dogs in the field.
The devices are currently being tested under the K-9 Wearable Technologies program to ensure they're tough enough to keep up with the dogs and the rigors of their jobs. Unlike human wearable tech, durability is the top concern. They could be chewed on or generally beat up, but they still need to accurately collect and store data. They also need to store information for long periods of time before being uploaded to a separate device. And because the K-9s work long shifts, battery life is also being tested.
If testing goes well, this kind of wearable technology may be available to other working K-9s. Dogs have proven to be valuable additions to police departments, military units, and other government agencies. The Customs and Border Protection dogs are the first to benefit from this wearable technology, but officials are hopeful that the information acquired from this testing will go on to help future K-9s in every field.
What do you think about wearable tech for working K-9s? Let us know in the comments.
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