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New device tracks location and activity of pets

In many cases, return to office after lifting-off pandemic-related restrictions has disrupted the newly established close relationship between owners and their pets that emerged during lockdowns. Many people use pet cameras to find out what their furry friends have been doing in the house during office hours. However, such cameras are needed in every room and the footage needs to be reviewed afterwards. Now, a research team led by the Georgia Institute of Technology has created a new device called PetTrack which, through a combination of sensors, can provide accurate, real-time indoor locations of the pets.

This revolutionary tracking device uses ultra-wideband (UWB) radio wireless sensors to locate the pet, and accelerometers to determine if it is sitting or moving, regardless of walls, furniture, or other objects that may be in the way. All of this is located on a small sensor which can be attached on a collar and can be viewed through a compatible smartphone application.

“PetTrack comprises two things: one is knowing the pet’s indoor location and second is trying to understand their activity,” said study senior author Ashutosh Dhekne, an assistant professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech. “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.”

While this device is currently designed just to monitor an animal’s location and position, it could have many possible future applications. For instance, pet daycares could use it to enable owners to see how their pet is faring away from home. In addition, this technology could become a training tool where a buzzer could sound if a pet is in an area in which they are not supposed to be.

“We could use our existing setup to also track when pets make accidents in the house during potty training,” explained study lead author Neeraj Alavala, a Masters student at Georgia Tech. “We already have the technology to track when and where these accidents happen and can ensure that those areas get cleaned up. As an extension, we can also give the pet feedback like a buzzer to train the pet to not go in the house.” 

“Overall, the idea is to connect better with your pet, using PetTrack. You could detect changing pet behaviors and interact with the pet using location-aware robotic toys,” Professor Dekhne concluded.

The study is published in the proceedings of the 2022 Workshop on Body-centric Computing Systems in Portland, Oregon and can be accessed here.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer  

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