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Gadget Freak Case #227: Wearable Computer Keeps Tabs on Fido & Kitty
10/5/2012

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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.
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.

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Herb_the_Engineer
User Rank
Iron
Great idea; I may try it
Herb_the_Engineer   8/7/2013 4:16:47 PM
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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. 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: What a gadget!
Rob Spiegel   10/22/2012 8:39:41 PM
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Rick, we have the same problem with coyotes where I live in New Mexico. Most of the car owners I know keep their cats inside at night to avoid the problem. Owls here are a similar problem.

78RPM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Successful product
78RPM   10/19/2012 6:24:06 PM
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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.

cookiejar
User Rank
Gold
Re: Successful product
cookiejar   10/19/2012 10:36:15 AM
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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.

78RPM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Successful product
78RPM   10/18/2012 8:34:21 PM
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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.

RICKZ28
User Rank
Platinum
Re: What a gadget!
RICKZ28   10/18/2012 4:08:10 PM
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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.

notarboca
User Rank
Gold
Re: Successful product
notarboca   10/17/2012 8:40:04 PM
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Have you considered a fundraising site such as Kickstarter?  Quite a few great concepts like yours have been brought into being through community donations.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Data Visualisation
Rob Spiegel   10/16/2012 12:02:34 AM
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This additional information is very helpful, Pete. Thanks. Have you used this gadget often with your pets? What has your experience been like?

pete.cross
User Rank
Iron
Data Visualisation
pete.cross   10/9/2012 2:38:35 AM
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The PetInspect article can be downloaded with the link above by clicking on "Build Instructions", or here: http://downloads.deusm.com/designnews/20120926-build-instructions-with-source-code.pdf

My way of presenting the data in that article was quite boring.  I imagine there are better ways to express the sensory data than being limited to lines on a time-series graph.

Here is a kind of time-series pie chart that looks cool.  http://richworks.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/1110.jpg  In the case of PetInspect, each ring could represent a day, and each section of the ring, a type of activity level:  sleeping, mild activity, running around.

The graph in this next link includes the route of a cat as it moved about:  http://richworks.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/431.jpg

Here is a time-series data visualization tool that looks like a step in the right direction: https://github.com/mbostock/d3/wiki/Gallery

 

 



pete.cross
User Rank
Iron
Re: Successful product
pete.cross   10/9/2012 2:28:16 AM
NO RATINGS
It's something I'd like to see developed into a product, and something I'd like to work on -- but I  don't have the resources to do it myself.  

At least the concept is out there for others to pick up on.  If anyone wants to develop this further, I am happy to help.

 

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