- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


New Technology for Doggies

December 7th, 2005, 02:23 PM
Talking to the animals enters 21st century as dogs go wireless

Cell phone with GPS lets owners track missing pets

CHARLES MANDEL For CanWest News Service

First Canadians had Fido for their cellphones; soon they’ll have cellphones for their four-legged Fido.
But the national cellular service provider won’t have anything to do with it. Pet Cell — a waterproof, voice-enabled GPS cellphone for dogs —is the brainchild of a Vancouver company that plans to release it early next year.
The bone-shaped phone is aimed at the roving Rover market, enabling pet owners to contact their straying pets and quickly track them down.
“This eliminates a lot of the anxiety when someone’s pet goes missing. I’m sure we’ve all driven around and seen the missing posters. It’s quite heart-breaking,” said Robbie Dick, vice-president of sales for On4 Communications Inc. “Wouldn’t it be great if Fido took off, for example,(you could) whip out your cell phone and punch in the co-ordinates and — bingo! — you’re tracking him within five metres of where he is.”
Since Dec. 31, 2004, some 9.7 million pets have gone missing across North America. The device— which will retail for about $350; call plans and roaming charges are still to be determined — attaches to a dog collar and has two preprogrammed buttons. If someone finds one of the cellphone-bearing animals, they can press the buttons to reach the pet’s owner.
One button calls the dog owner’s home. The other contacts the owner’s cellphone.
Owners can also call their dogs with Pet Cell. The phone is set up to recognize only the numbers the owner enters, so the dogs can remain untroubled by wrong numbers and telemarketers.
Still, the question remains: Why would you call Bowser? Won’t the conversation be limited?
Dick says people with new pets often fret about leaving them alone at home. He says he has friends who phone their home voice-answering machine to assure their dog they’ll be returning.
“This would be the same kind of thing, only it’s not on your home phone. It would be on his device. They can talk to the animal and allay any anxiety it has.”
While dogs aren’t going to be downloading ring tones or music videos to their cellphones any time soon ,PetCell does come with a number of neat features.
The phone is equipped with a “geo fence capability” that alerts owners if the dog leaves the yard. And it has a temperature sensor, so if owners leave their pooch in the car, they can tell whether the animal is becoming too hot or cold.
A 1999 study from the University of Guelph, the first ever done on the Canadian pet industry, shows anima lowners spend$3 billion annually on food, vet services and accessories.
Even so, those who work with stray dogs say On4 may be barking up the wrong tree.
Sharon Miko, outreach manager with the Ottawa Humane Society, says while any effort to increase pet identification is welcome, she believes the priority for owners should be old-fashioned dog collars and tags ,as well as an electronic microchip implanted under the animal’s skin that contains information about the pet’s owners.
“Anything else people want to do to enhance the chance of their pet being able to get home safely is wonderful ,but I don’t think the (PetCell) system should be looked at as a replacement for both the standard collar tag and microchip.”
Tom Trifaux, vice-president of sales for Calgary-based pet-tracking firm Pet-Lynx, says he applauds the new technology, but believes On4 faces two problems. The first is price. “I think that will be a barrier for some people.”
Trifaux says the second issue is the fact many missing pets go unidentified because they slip out of their collars. “They’re out in the community running around and we find them in all their glory, with just their fur on.”
Dick notes the cellphone technology won’t be limited to dogs. Down the road, the company plans to introduce a similar phone for kids, Alzheimer’s patients and outdoor recreational users.
There’s also an application for tracking large herds of cattle.

SUPPLIED The bone-shaped phone attaches to a dog’s collar.

December 7th, 2005, 03:50 PM
I would have loved that for my old dobie. He would bolt out the door if anybody ever left it open a crack and we spent hours and hours looking for him.

December 7th, 2005, 04:30 PM
I think it is a great idea, just a little pricey!

December 7th, 2005, 05:21 PM
I would absolutely get one

December 7th, 2005, 05:24 PM
Still, the question remains: Why would you call Bowser? Won’t the conversation be limited?Maybe if your dog knows what "home" is, you can call him and tell him "Hey Twithead, GO HOME! (for a cookie?)":D