Georgia Tech system promises camera-free in-home pet tracking
While many dog (or cat) owners would like to know what their pet does all day while left home alone, they don't necessarily want a bunch of cameras placed inside their house. The PetTrack system offers a less intrusive alternative, as it keeps tabs on pets via radio signals.
Created by a team of scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, PetTrack consists of three wirelessly connected parts: a sensor that's worn by the dog on its collar or harness, a few ultra-wideband radio transceivers placed around the home, and a central data collection module.
As the dog walks from one place to another, it gets closer to some of the transceivers and farther away from others. These changes in distance can be detected by the system based on the amount of time that elapses between a radio signal being sent by each transceiver, and a response being received from the dog-worn sensor.
Obstacles such as walls, doors and furniture aren't a problem, as the radio waves travel right through them up to a range of 100 ft (30.5 m).
By continuously analyzing how far the dog is from each transceiver, the central data collection module is able to triangulate the animal's present location within the house. It additionally receives data from an accelerometer in the dog's sensor, which it analyzes to determine the animal's current body position (i.e: if it's sitting, standing or lying down).
The data collection module relays all this information to an internet-connected app on the user's smartphone, via the home's Wi-Fi network. As a result, whenever and wherever the user wants, they can open the app to check where the dog is and (more or less) what it's doing. They can also view a record of where it's been and what positions it's been in throughout the day.
In this way – for example – they could find out if the dog typically spends most of the day sleeping on the bed/couch, exploring the home, or staring hopefully out the window. They could also see if it's going into "forbidden" areas, or if its perceived lethargy is cause for concern.
A single PetTrack system can monitor up to four pets at once, providing updates once a second. And unlike a camera-based system, there's no risk of hackers utilizing it to watch users in their homes, or to see where their valuables are located.
A paper on the research, which is being led by Asst. Prof. Ashutosh Dhekne, was presented in July at the BodySys workshop in Portland, Oregon.
There's presently no word on when PetTrack may be commercialized. For now, you can see a demonstration of the prototype in the following video.
Source: Georgia Tech