HomeSciencePetTrack: New Device Tracks Pet Location and Activity Indoors

PetTrack: New Device Tracks Pet Location and Activity Indoors

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Tracking a pet’s location and activity indoors is of interest to pet owners who want to feel connected to their pet as well as of interest to pet owners who feel concerned about their pet’s well-being.

A dog with the PetTrack device. Image credit: Georgia Tech.

A dog with the PetTrack device. Image credit: Georgia Tech.

The newly-developed device, named PetTrack, uses a combination of sensors to give the accurate, real-time indoor location of an animal.

Ultra-wideband (UWB) radio wireless sensors locate the pet and accelerometers determine if it’s sitting or moving regardless of objects or walls in the way, giving owners more detail on what their pet is doing than a camera or GPS.

All of this is located on a small sensor that can be put on a collar for minimal invasiveness and can be viewed via a compatible smartphone app.

“PetTrack comprises two things: one is knowing the pet’s indoor location and second is trying to understand their activity,” said Dr. Ashutosh Dhekne, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

PetTrack’s innovative combination of sensors makes it unique compared to other pet-monitoring devices.

The UWB radio wireless signal locates where the pet is in the home from up to 30 m (100 feet) away, while the accelerometer acts as an inertial sensor that can track the pet’s pose. This means owners can learn whether their pet is standing, sitting, or even lying down.

Unlike with cameras, owners can always know where their pet is because the UWB network is accessible through walls, furniture, doors, or anything else a cat or dog can hide behind.

The UWB network is plug-and-play and doesn’t interfere with existing WiFi but should be connected to a home WiFi network to give the owner smartphone updates.

Location data takes up far less bandwidth than images and doesn’t burden the owner’s WiFi.

Multiple UWB sensors and a central anchor data collection module help determine the location via multilateration, or individual distance measurements from different anchors, keeping it accurate.

“Together, combining where the pet is and what the orientation of the pet is, we can create a summary map of where the pet has been during the day and what activity the pet was doing,” Dr. Dhekne said.

“This could reassure owners who are concerned about pets getting into forbidden places or comfort owners worried about their sick or elderly animals.”

Currently PetTrack is designed just to monitor an animal’s location and position, but it has a lot of potential.

Pet daycares could use the technology, so owners have a sense of how their dog is doing away from home.

It could also become a training tool where a buzzer could sound if a pet were in an area they were not meant to be.

PetTrack could not only be the future of animal-monitoring technology but could provide a whole new way for owners to connect with their dogs or cats.

“Overall, the idea is to connect better with your pet, using PetTrack,” Dr. Dhekne said.

“You could detect changing pet behaviors and interact with the pet using location-aware robotic toys.”

Dr. Dhekne and colleagues presented their device at BodySys 2022, a workshop on body-centric computing systems that was part of MobiSys 2022 in Portland, Oregon.

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Neeraj Alavala et al. PetTrack: Tracking Pet Location and Activity Indoors. BodySys ’22: Proceedings of the 2022 Workshop on Body-centric Computing Systems; doi: 10.1145/3539489.3539587


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