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New 'Internet of Animals' actually seems useful for pet owners

The first social network for pets will find your lost dog and monitor its stress levels.

Internet of Things for lost pets monitoring pets health
Credit: Thinkstock

And now for something completely different, courtesy of the country that definitely does things differently. Japan is rolling out Anicall (site is in Japanese), a social network for dogs and cats that it refers to as "The Internet of Animals."

Anicall first rolled out in January at the first ever Wearable Expo in Japan, but more details were shared on the show "Great Gear" on NHK World, the English-language version of Japan's biggest broadcast network.

Anicall works with your smartphone and a plastic collar for the pet. Instead of using GPS and Wi-Fi, the collar uses Bluetooth to communicate, giving it a much longer battery life.

052815 internet of things pets Anicall

It has three major features. The first is lost pet notification. If a pet runs off, the Bluetooth tries to connect with nearby smartphones also running the Anicall app. A person looking at their phone will see an alert of the lost animal and a picture so they know what to look for. If they see the dog they can try to catch it and hold it and then contact the owner to report finding their lost pet.

Obviously this was designed with legendary Japanese politeness in mind.

The second feature is behavioral analysis. There is a momentum sensor in the collar that sends data to a cloud system, which then sorts it into 20 behavioral categories like expectation and unease. A check of your smartphone will show your pet's mood so you can identify if there are patterns of behavior associated with time of day, activity, and so on.

The third is a health monitor that watches heart and respiratory rate. Again, data is sent to the cloud daily for analysis. One of the things noticed is that a dog's heart rates shoots up when it is waiting for food. If they find anything abnormal, the owner is advised to take their pet to the veterinarian.

The price for the collar is only about $30. It is on iOS and, as of last month, Android. Now if only they will release it in America.

This isn't the first or only pet IoT/wearable. There is a company called Whistle that has a $99 device for sale at PetSmart stores. The Whistle Activity Monitor is a health tracker similar to Anicall that measures your dog's activities and builds a history of activity to look for long-term trends.

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