Lost pets to be tracked by new Aussie technology

An ingenious Australian invention promises to end the heartbreak of lost pets, with the new technology set to not only track your pet’s movements, but also monitor their health.

Lost pets may be a thing of the past thanks to new technology being developed by Australian scientists which tracks your beloved pet no matter how far they wander.

And the Companion Collar will not only download their movements in real time onto a phone, it can monitor their health or unusual behaviour.

The smart collar is being developed by the CSIRO’s digital specialist arm, Data61, It lets pet owners accurately monitor the location of their furry companion over short and long distances by automatically using both bluetooth and satellite tracking.

“Many (current) devices only employ Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-based tracking, which often involve a community of people listening’ on their phones and sharing their location data with a service in order to report the tracking device. This method is also only suitable for short distance monitoring.” Dr Phil Valencia, senior research engineer at Data61, said.

The CSIRO Companion Collar prototype. Picture: Supplied
The CSIRO Companion Collar prototype. Picture: Supplied

The other approach available on the market is a GPS-based tracker that requires a mobile plan.

Dr Valencia said these devices are often expensive, rely on cellular coverage and use a large amount of power, requiring weekly, if not even more frequent, charging.

He said the Companion Collar requires monthly charging on average, depending on how active your pet is.

Pets who remain within a virtual boundary set up by their owner will trigger the device’s automatic power saving mode, but if they wander outside the boundary the Companion Collar switches to GPS location and direct satellite reporting.

Specific behaviours, out of the ordinary activity and “data for health metrics” will also be monitored, and uploaded to the cloud and displayed on a phone app.

“Owners will get valuable insights into how their pet has behaved throughout the day, with the system identifying if the animal’s activity is above or below its typical levels, and whether it was significantly different at a certain time of day,” Dr Valencia said.

The prototype builds on work between CSIRO and private company Ceres Tag to develop smart ear tags for tracking grazing cattle.

Dog lover Lauren Ackerly said the innovation would be warmly welcomed by pet owners.

She just wishes it was already available — last weekend her cavalier cross Willow, spooked by thunder, jumped out of her eastern suburbs apartment’s bathroom window and strayed until she was hit by a car while Ms Ackerly was at lunch.

“If I’d got a real time alert she’d crossed a virtual boundary maybe the situation would be different,” Ms Ackerly, who offers dog sitting services, said.

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