Did ever wonder how your cat or dog is being treated when you board it? Pete Cross decided to answer that question with technology.
He created the PetInspect gadget, which records data on how a pet is being treated while it is boarded. The data-logger and wireless communications device lets you track your pet's environment -- hot or cold -- and whether the pet is getting exercise. This gadget consists of a 16-bit microcontroller with 256K of flash memory and sensors for pressure, temperature, activity, light, and proximity.
Pete Cross' cat Elmo shows off the PetInspect, a data-logger and wireless communications device that lets you discover what environment your pet experiences and how it behaves while you're not around.
The PCB has dedicated power and ground planes on each board. The electronics package, including batteries, fits into a cylinder 28mm (1.1 inches) in diameter and 23mm (0.9 inches) in length.
Yes, Andrew, I was also impressed by the complexity of this gadget. As for the pdf, we actually asked for a shorter version. In the end the production folks decided they could post the entire novel-length code.
Yes, it is a very cool gadget. The only thing I can say is that our cats would not wear it. They have destroyed all the collars we have gotten them. We also don't board the cats. They are easy to care for and we can get neighbors to come over and feed them.
Yes, I can understand what you're saying about cats, Naperlou. Over the years, my dogs have been fine with collars, but I've never even tried to get one of my cats to wear a collar. It will be interesting to hear what our gadget maker says about this.
If you want your cat to wear a collar, then it's best to start with them when they are young. They just expect that to be normal from then on.
If you try anything like this at home, then please do use a proper collar bought from a pet store. Cats can be strangled in the event they get it hooked up on a branch. That's extremely rare and can be avoided entirely by buying one designed to break when that happens. I just bought a cheap flea collar for this project. It is designed to expand and break under the weight of the cat.
Our cat has lost several collars over the years. I'm not sure if the collars were of break-away design, but we don't put the collar on too tight.
The gadget does seem like it would have appeal to many pet owners. There may be a good market for such an item, especially for the folks with smart phones (with app for that).
I think I would find-out what I already know...my cat is sleeping all day while I am working.
Coyotes have been a problem lately where I live, many have lost cats and small dogs that were out at night. The gadget may help resolve some losses, but frequently a collar and a bloody mess is left behind by the coyotes.
@pete.cross: That's a very interesting master's thesis ("Control, communication and monitoring of intravaginal drug delivery in dairy cows"). I'd imagine that getting a cat to wear a collar is very simple in comparison.
It doesn't look like it. I've use the 'Loc8tor' for keeping track of my cats and dogs. It provides directional (arrows) as well as distance (sound) information up to about 600'. The same company has other products that work from further distances, but not as precise.
For tracking devices, the genre falls into LBS, or Location-Based-Services. LBS devices generally have some type of transceiver (I've developed many; from GPS to WAN-cellular, to RFID and even ZigBee protocols), and then the big kicker: a significant battery for the transceiver. All this adds up to a relatively larger volume than what is depicted in this device shown, which I liken more to a collection of sensory collectors.
I agree that this would be a great product to launch on Kickstarter.com. It's amazingly complex and can be commercialized. Of course, you have to have a business plan and the will to work the plan. Go for it.
I'm overwhelmed by the thought of all the work that went into this project. It almost seems to me to be a "make work project."
I tend to be a lot lazier and spend a significant amount of time looking for easy and hopefully elegant solutions. Why bother re-inventing the wheel?
The first thing that came to mind for me for this application was TI's eZ430-Chronos Development tool. The MPS430 16 bit low power processor based tool is housed in a watch body and features a wireless link to its PC USB port as well as built-in temperature, pressure and 3-axis accelerometer with 5 buttons as well as a comprehensive digital display thrown in to boot. The coupon I got after attending a free TI MPS430 seminar allowed me to purchase the whole development kit and caboodle for less than $2 on my MasterCard. It seems hardware-wise all you'd have to add for this project would be a light sensor.
But then of course a project this simplified would hardly qualify for a Master of Philosophy thesis. But for you guys out there wanting to build a similar functioning device, you have a very attractive alternative.
Hi, Cookiejar. I read the literature on the Texas Instruments eZ430-Chronos Development tool. I'll have to agree that it would sure make this project simpler. Thanks; it's cool.
Yet, I'm still inspired by the fact that one guy designed and soldered together and programmed the Wearable Computer. Before the days of us geeks and robot dweebs, guys cusomized cars and built furniture even though they could just buy the stuff. Maybe Elon Musk will market a kit for a space ship -- or we could just build our own.
Great idea, but a lot of work! I may try it on my (indoor only) cat. The GPS won't get much of a workout, but my wife keeps the windows open in all kinds of weather, so the other sensors might. Coyotes here trot the streets in broad daylight. Most cat owners defy the coyotes and let their cats run at night. If the letters to the local newspaper editor are any indication, it's working out pretty well for the coyotes.
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
Followers of Design News’ Gadget Freak blogs will have the opportunity next week to take home a wireless remote demo package that can be used to build garage door openers, tire pressure monitors, keyless entry systems, and much more.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.