The wearables craze has gone to the dogs

A Scandinavian research team is currently working on a headset that translates your dog's thoughts into human language. Maybe on day, dogs will create their own mind-reading devices...

A Scandinavian research team is currently working on a headset that translates your dog’s thoughts into human language. Maybe one day, dogs will create their own mind-reading devices…

The wearable electronics business is expected to grow from more than $14 billion this year to a predicted $70 billion in 2024, which means a growing number of tech firms are barking up the wearables tree by rolling out a new generation of smart gadgetry – for pets!

In this day and age of the “quantified self” (using technology to gather data on your eating, sleeping and fitness habits), it was only a matter of time before we turned our four-legged friends into “quantifiable others” through devices that keep us plugged into our pets.

A sea of wearables means you can quantify yourself to your heart's delight.

A sea of wearables means you can quantify yourself to your heart’s delight.

“Pet wearables are in high demand among the coveted 1.5- to 3-year-old canine and feline demographics,” points out HipCricket, a mobile marketing and advertising blog. “By 2015, domestic pets are expected to make up a significant part of the wearable tech demographic.”

And with Americans predicted to spend an all-time high of roughly $60 billion on their pets this year, the Internet of Things could soon become significantly…furrier.

"Doggles" were an April Fool's Day joke from Bing. But hey, we're strapping our dogs with the same kind of wearables we have. Whose to say Google Glass won't make a Doggie Glass?

“Doggles” were an April Fool’s Day joke from Bing. But hey, these days, we’re outfitting our dogs with the same kind of wearables we have. Whose to say Google Glass won’t make a Doggie Glass?

“The tighter bond between household animals and the people formerly known as owners has established pet wellness as a serious business, and tech firms are taking note,” wrote New York Times contributor Nick Wingfield, whose article underlines the fact that people are looking to interact with their pets in a more “meaningful” way.

Grumpy Cat does not appear to be a fan of her Eyenimal camera collar.

Grumpy Cat does not appear to be a fan of her Eyenimal camera collar.

For some, that means outfitting your cat’s collar with an Eyenimal camera so you can be privy to all the shenanigans (or naps?) your feline gets into when you’re away. For others, it’s suiting the dog up with a Tru-Fit Smart Harness and GoPro HD camera, and filming a carefree romp at the park from Fido’s point of view. Currently, cloud-based video recording platforms such as Closeli could also enable pet owners to quickly scroll through and locate recorded events, without having to review hours of footage from their pet’s wearable camera to find out when something interesting happened (and also easily edit and share clips as they desire). Created by ArcSoft, Closeli currently powers a home wi-fi video monitoring solution and could potentially branch to the pet wearable arena.

Gadgets such as Eyenimal (touted as the “first” wearable animal camera) have been around since 2012. But with new players entering the playing field, and budding partnerships between wearable leaders like Jawbone – which recently teamed up with “quantified pup” startup Whistle to let users merge information from human and pet activity trackers – it’s time for every dog to have its data.

On the wackier end of the spectrum, the same corner of the globe that brought us Ikea, Vikings, ABBA and Pipi Longstockings might also bequeath the world with “the first device to translate animal thoughts into human language. The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery says it’s “No More Woof” apparatus – which makes your dog look like an astronaut (you’re welcome?) – can “let your dog ‘speak’ its mind” by analyzing brainwave patterns and spelling them out in human language via loudspeaker. If only Lassie were alive to see this.

Don't even try and pretend you're not excited about this.

Don’t even try and pretend you’re not excited about this.

This dog is using the "No more woof" to tell its owner that it feels silly wearing this ridiculous headset.

This dog is using the “No More Woof” doggie translater to tell its owner that it feels silly wearing this ridiculous headset.

A gaggle of today’s hottest pet tech startups are betting on the market for pet health and whereabouts monitoring.

An activity monitoring device could help your dog not look like this.

An activity monitoring device could help your dog not look like this.

If your dachshund has the physique of a small torpedo, for example, you might be interested in FitBark – a cute and tiny bone-shaped activity monitor that helps owners understand their dog’s health and behavior. For $69 (pre-order price), Fitbark can, among other things, show you how your dog measures up against the standards of its own breed, track the time caretakers spend with your dog, share activity reports with vets and trainers and a bunch of other nifty (and sometimes odd) stuff.

This boxer is modeling a FitBark.

This boxer is modeling a FitBark.

There’s also Whistle ($99) and Tagg ($100-$200), two of the more talked about startups whose products use GPS to measure your dog’s activity and location 24/7.

When your dog is wearing a whistle, you'll always know where he or she is. How your dog actually got there (riding in a sidecar?) is another story.

When your dog is wearing a whistle, you’ll always know where he or she is. How your dog actually got there (riding in a sidecar!!?) is another story.

Other gadgets like Voyce are angling to “bridge the communication gap” between dogs and their owners, providing insight to a canine’s overall health and well-being by measuring key vital signs and other wellness indicators. And just last month, PetPace released its own smart collar that allows pet owners to monitor the health of their dog(s) and cat(s) health around the clock.

Some veterinarians and animal welfare advocates say the steady influx of pet-centric monitoring devices could significantly mitigate pricey pet medical bills, or prevent them altogether.

What do you think of the pet wearables craze? Does the prospect of a dog translator freak you out, or are you excited to pre-order a dozen for your herd of Chihuahuas? Let us know in the comments. Woof!

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