Wearable Tech World Feature Article
September 08, 2015

Pets in Pain Now Have a Wearable Way to Tell Owners

Having a pet can be a wonderful experience. But pets have a limited means of communication with owners which can mean some problems go unnoticed for days, weeks, or even until it's much too late to do anything about it. A new set of wearable devices—the PetPace and the Voyce systems—offer a new way for pets to communicate with owners, which could ultimately save pets' lives.

Both the PetPace and the Voyce systems both appear to offer similar solutions: PetPace offers a collar that can track a dog's vital signs, watching for key telltale signs of pain. If any of those signs crop up, the system can then launch an email, text message, or a straight phone call to the pet's owner, letting him or her know about the issue. Voyce, meanwhile, offers roughly the same thing, along with some fitness tracking systems that tell things like calories burned and the overall quality of a pet's rest. Plus, Voyce offers the Voyce Pro system, geared more toward veterinarians, that tends to target those pets in the recovery stages of surgery or those suffering longer-term illnesses.

Image via Voyce

Bad news for those with smaller pets, though; the animal in question must weigh at least eight pounds before putting the system to use. There's also some bad news in terms of battery life, as the battery can last anywhere from eight weeks to just two days, depending on the amount of data flowing through the system.

But early results suggest that the systems work pretty well. In one PetPace test case, a five year old dog known as “Jack” is using the collar to detect epileptic seizures. The PetPace system can note things much harder to visually detect, like twitching limbs, that suggest a seizure in progress. Reports suggest that Jack's seizures have actually allowed PetPace to tailor systems to treat other dogs with epilepsy. Voyce, meanwhile, has been taking similar tests, and over 100 animal hospitals have reportedly signed up to put Voyce Pro to work.

Those interested, meanwhile, can pick up PetPace collars for $150 per collar and a $15 a month monitoring fee, while Voyce charges a higher opening price at $200, but a lower fee at $9.95 per month.

Pets, like babies, have a terrible time telling the world about things that are wrong. Some pet problems that lack overt symptoms can go years without being noticed. Sometimes the observer may notice the small differences that can indicate larger problems, but that's far from guaranteed. A system like this should have the attention of pet owners not willing to trust observation alone in the care of a beloved friend, and should ensure a fairly brisk market. Voyce may well have the edge here, as there are separate versions for the consumer and for the professional, but PetPace's lower opening price could be helpful as well.

Regardless of the competitive aspect of the market itself, both product lines should find an eager market willing to shell out a little extra to help keep an old friend as free of pain as possible. That's good news for pet owners, for pets, and for PetPace and Voyce as well.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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