Even the most attentive carer can’t monitor a horse around the clock. A high-tech halter might change that.
Owning a racehorse is big business. Owners have steep investments in their livestock, not to mention an emotional connection, and new technology is helping protect their animals’ health.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over our homes, with applications from smart refrigerators to IoT-enabled doorbells. Now, with the addition of high-tech sensors and ultra-wideband impulse radar, it is changing how we care for horses.
IoT-enabled wearables are now available in the United States and Canada to monitor and protect horses in stables, horse trailers, and pastures.
Protequus, a biomedical engineering and data science firm dedicated to equine health and safety, recently released its Nightwatch24 halter. This smart halter alerts equine caretakers via text, phone call and email at the early signs of danger or distress in their horse. Examples include colic, a common disorder of the digestive system; being cast, when a horse is stuck in a lying position and unable to stand; or foaling.
Horses aren’t under constant observation by their caretakers. And distress often occurs during the night or when the horses are out in a pasture or in transport.
The Nightwatch24 halter is designed to monitor horses for signs of distress around the clock, enabling faster intervention and treatment.
Additionally, a visual distress indicator uses an LED alert so that a person can quickly evaluate a horse’s wellbeing with a simple walk-by inspection. This is ideal when a wireless connection is not present.
While physically lightweight and compact, the wearable monitor is no technological lightweight. The device contains GPS, accelerometers and gyroscope sensors to generate real-time biometric and behavioural data.
Machine learning is used to determine the horse’s unique physiology and adapt to it. MATLAB was used to prototype machine learning training and on-device algorithms that predict equine distress.
With 10 to 11 per cent of the general horse population in Australia suffering from potentially fatal colic each year, Protequus said it is focused on the life-saving potential of its very high-tech solution.
This article was originally published as “Safe as horses” in the November 2018 issue of create.