Humans and dogs have a pretty special bond, and it's incredible how our canine companions are able to sense our moods and intentions. When we're feeling a little down, they're right there next to us to provide comfort. When a bath or a trip to the vet is in order, they seem to know just when to make themselves scarce. We usually have a good idea about how our dogs are feeling, too, but DogStar is looking to take some of the guesswork out of the equation with TailTalk – a wearable that uses sensors to track and translate the movement of dogs' tails.
Since it's meant to be used with dogs, the DogStar TailTalk is designed to be durable, water-resistant, chew-resistant, and last up to six months with each replaceable battery. The lightweight wearable, which packs a 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and Bluetooth, secures safely around a dog's tail. As the dog goes about its day, the device records tail position and movement, and then translates the wagging into emotions we can understand. Through the mobile app, compatible with iOS and Android, owners will be able to view their dog's happiness status and emotional events.
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"Tail wagging doesn't automatically imply that a dog is happy," said Dr. Pamela Perry, Ph.D., DVM, Veterinary Behavior Resident at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "The tail is a dog's social interface, signaling behavioral nuances that other dogs recognize, but which humans do not always understand."
TailTalk bases its sensor technology on journal-published canine behavioral research, led by professors Giorgio Vallortigara and Angelo Quaranta from the University of Bari, Italy. The device's goal is to analyze the data and associate patterns with environments, people, toys, and anything else that may excite or stress out the dog. Instead of having to guess (sometimes incorrectly), dog owners will be able to more accurately know how their pet responds in different situations, or get a reading on how Rover is feeling when they're away from home.
The DogStar TailTalk is currently funding on Indiegogo and has raised 28 percent of its US$100,000 goal in one day, with another 29 days to go. A campaign pledge of $99 puts you in line for one TailTalk. The retail price will be around the $120 mark.
If development goes as planned, backers can expect shipments of the DogStar TailTalk to start in June 2016.
What do you think? Useful gadget or a techno-bridge too far? Let us know in the comments section below.