David Roberts with one of his research associates. Photo credit: North Carolina State University.

You wouldn't want your dog wasting time on an iWatch everyday but cyberwearables are definitely in the works for dogs. A new harness has been developed that is fitted with sensors that can monitor your dog's vital signs and its posture and then pass that info back to you.

The device comes equipped with small motors that vibrate so you can communicate with your dog even if you two are out of sight of each other. It's a great tool for a dog in training or a search and rescue dog. The main function is to improve the communication between dogs and humans.

“Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and one of our challenges was to develop sensors that tell us about their behavior by observing their posture remotely so we can determine when they’re sitting, standing, running, etc., even when they’re out of sight – a harness-mounted computer the size of a deck of cards transmits those data wirelessly," said Dr. David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at North Carolina State University who helped develop the prototype.

If you have an older dog this could be a way to keep tabs on it to make sure its not overly stressed by monitoring its heart rate and body temperature via the sensors. 

Rescue & guide dogs

Guide dogs could also benefit from this technology. Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student at NC State, who has worked on the project said: "Guide dogs are bred and trained not to display signs of stress in their behavior." The electronic sensors could change that.

The harnesses can also be equipped with motors that can nudge a dog to reinforce a spoken command or prompt a dog to take action if it is a long way away.

Don't think a camera hasn't been thought of. Cameras and environmental sensors for things like gas leaks could be fitted on harnesses used by dogs that go into disaster zones.

It's likely the harnesses will also find a place in shelters and animal hospitals so that dogs can be monitored while they are in care or recovering from a procedure.

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