Pets

HoofStep keeps tabs on wandering horses' habits

The HoofStep head unit communicates with an app on the user's phone
The HoofStep head unit communicates with an app on the user's phone
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HoofStep users can utilize the app whenever they want, simply to check where their horse is and what it's doing 
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HoofStep users can utilize the app whenever they want, simply to check where their horse is and what it's doing 
The HoofStep head unit communicates with an app on the user's phone
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The HoofStep head unit communicates with an app on the user's phone

Horses aren't like dogs. Whereas the one is always around the house, the other spends much of its time off in a pasture. So, how is a horse-owner supposed to keep track of what their animal is doing? Well, a group of Swedish entrepreneurs believe that their HoofStep system is the answer.

Mounted within a head harness, the actual HoofStep device sits against the horse's forehead.

Among other things, it contains a GPS unit, a compass, an inertial measurement unit (which is an accelerometer/gyroscope combo), and a microprocessor. Utilizing this hardware, it tracks both the horse's location, and its head movements – based on the latter, it can reportedly determine what the animal is up to. Data is wirelessly transmitted by 3G cellular or Wi-Fi (depending on location) to a base unit, which in turn communicates with an iOS/Android app on the user's smartphone.

An artificial intelligence algorithm proceeds to learn the horse's normal behaviour. If the creature strays from that pattern, the owner is alerted by the app. According to the designers, the technology is capable of detecting things like colic, laminitis, foaling, stress, decreased activity levels, and pain.

HoofStep users can utilize the app whenever they want, simply to check where their horse is and what it's doing 
HoofStep users can utilize the app whenever they want, simply to check where their horse is and what it's doing 

Users can also utilize the app whenever they want, simply to check where their horse is and what it's doing – detectable activities include eating, rolling, lying down, walking and galloping. Additionally, the app keeps a record of how the horse's behaviour varies over time.

The head unit weighs 149 grams (5.3 oz), is IP67 water-resistant, and is claimed to run for about 21 days on one three-hour charge of its battery. The base unit runs for eight hours per charge, although it can also just be plugged into a wall outlet – it can manage up to four head units at once.

Should you be interested, HoofStep is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of SEK 2,499 (about US$270) will get you a single-horse system with a 12-month data subscription, assuming it reaches production. Retail will be 55 percent higher.

A somewhat similar system, developed by French startup Equisense, additionally tracks the performance of equestrian horses.

Sources: Kickstarter, HoofStep

1 comment
exodous
Does the tracking device need to be right next to their brain? I'm not a tin foil hat kind of person but it just seems like having it right there 24/7 can't be a good thing. I think having a camera out in the field with system that can track where they go/what they're doing is a better alternative. Sure, an owner won't be able to track their horse if it gets out but having the device right next to their brain the entire time? People that would find this useful have very very expensive horses(and they have the money to buy entire law firms) and if there is any chance that in a few years data comes out that the signal produces cancer they'll be sued into the ground.