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Voyce, the sensor-packed wellness wearable for dogs, will ship in February for US$300

Jon Phillips | Dec. 17, 2014
Better late than never, the long-overdue health and activity tracker promises to deliver canine wellness data that not even your vet can record.

Low-frequency radio waves take time to percolate
So why has it taken so long for Voyce to come to market? For starters, the company tells me that it wanted to add more features to its analytics platform. For example, since I last covered Voyce a year ago, i4C Innovations has added a symptom checker tool that helps identify common medical problems, as well as a new graph view that shows the intensity of your dog's activity.

But one of the biggest delays circles back to the FCC. In addition to a common accelerometer that measures your dog's movement (and thus her time spent active), the Voyce band includes a sensor that uses low-frequency radio waves to measure heart rate (tracking the carotid artery) and breathing rate (tracking muscle movement). i4C says it has exclusive patent rights to use this technology in products not intended for humans, but the FCC didn't have any protocol for testing and certifying this particular application.

Well, the FCC finally developed a methodology, completed certification this month, and here we are: Dogs can join the quantified-self movement just like any self-obsessed human.

Simple data, deep insights
Heart rate and respiration data doesn't sound particularly exciting on the surface, but when you're trying to tease out insights on your dog's physical and mental health, this information can speak volumes. Emily Hartman, i4C's Director of Product Management, explained that unusually high heart rates can point to a dog who's fallen sick, while high respiratory rates can be an indicator of heart disease.

Even Voyce's relatively simple activity data can paint diagnostic pictures. When you leave your dog alone at home, does Voyce report a lot of activity right after you shut the door? This can point to separation anxiety. Or, conversely, is your dog extremely active after a long nap? This can point to general boredom when you're away. 

Or what about your dog's sleeping patterns? Did he used to sleep through the night, but now wakes frequently? This can indicate early onset arthritis. Or maybe he's having hip issues and just can't get comfortable.

A price only a pet owner could understand
The Voyce band promises up to seven days of battery life, and syncs with i4C's cloud platform over Wi-Fi every four hours, or on demand with a button push. There's currently no mobile app, so push notifications are off the table, but the Voyce website is built with responsive design, and renders quite nicely on phones and tablets.

In addition to many of the same data views you get with human activity trackers--time active, time inactive, miles traveled, calories burned--Voyce also reports hours in direct sunlight. And of course there's the heart and breathing rate data. But the subscription platform also has tools to check medical symptoms, store medical records, set reminders for medication, jot down notes on your dog's behavior, and share everything you collect with your veterinarian. 

 

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