When it comes to personal improvement, technology rules the world. With apps for everything from counting steps and meditation, to shopping lists and learning languages, tech has essentially become our own personal assistant. When it comes to our four-legged friends, though, we’re really only beginning to scratch the surface.
Pet health companies are looking to change that. Newcomer Ilume is using a data-driven approach to food, weight, exercise and more, to help better the health of our pets. We asked Ilume’s in-house tech expert Christian McGilloway about the limitations of traditional dog care, advances in pet tech and the future of your dog’s health.
A one-size-fits-all approach
McGilloway says the traditional dog care model doesn’t cut it these days - particularly when it comes to feeding time. “You go to some pet stores or supermarkets and a bag of dog food says [on it] ‘for dogs 19 kilos, feed them this much,’” says McGilloway. “That is fundamentally flawed, because it doesn’t take into account the activity or breed of the dog,” which could affect things like required calorie intake.
He says many companies don’t have the capacity to understand the needs of individual dogs. “They haven’t got the technology to understand what happens to the dog at home,” he says. “That’s where we kind of come into play.”
Understanding dogs through data
According to McGilloway, to improve an individual dog’s health you need to start with one thing: data. “We’re currently doing full clinical trials to really understand how different levels of energy and different levels of exercise affect dogs,” he says. That data can now be accumulated through such points as a dog’s collar and food bowl. “We can use that data via a variety of algorithms and patterns to try and predict what the dog’s activity is like for the day,” says McGilloway.
Smart bowl, smart food
The collar collects data for metrics like movement, while the food bowl measures how much food is being eaten out of the serving. Together, the strands of information can tell owners what kind of food to feed your dog and how much it needs. Pet owners can then subscribe to companies to produce and deliver meals. Ilume offers breakfast and dinner for your pet, and they both function differently.
“The breakfast and dinner have been designed specifically to try and meet the calorific needs of the dog throughout the day,” says McGilloway. The meals are human-grade, with meat and roasted vegetables overnight. The end result is individualised and very different from anything else on the market.
McGilloway says meals are just the beginning of a deeper understanding and care for dogs through using technology. “Getting data from your dog also means being able to identify health patterns and early onset of diseases,” says McGilloway. “[Then] if we notice those baselines changing positively or negatively, insights can come back to your app.” Sleep patterns, restlessness and even separation anxiety are all candidates for pet tech going forward. “I think we’re at the stage where people want this [for their pets],” says McGilloway. “We want to [gain] deeper insights.”
And if that means your dog is around for a little longer, the trade seems obvious.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Ilume.