There are plenty of health trackers for humans on the market, but for people with guide dogs, the health of the dog can be extremely important, too. Not only that, but guide dogs also work an extremely stressful job, and while most dogs might move their ears or whimper when something stresses them out, guide dogs are trained not to do this.
Because of this, Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student and a guide dog user from North Carolina State University, has developed a dog harness that can keep track of how stressed the dog is. While the system is only a prototype so far, it is very precise, and will notify the human when the dog is stressed.
The way it works is that there are small sensors inside the collar or the chest strap of the harness. Those sensors sit next to the skin of the dog, and can pick up metrics like heart rate and breathing patterns. That data is then fed into the handle of the harness. The part of the handle near the thumb vibrates with each heartbeat, and the part near the pinky vibrates with breathing. With this data, the user can tell how fast the heart is beating and the dog is breathing, and if those metrics get faster, it means the dog is stressed.
Currently, the system is still theoretical. Prototype software has been created to turn the data into vibrations in the handle, but the data has only been simulated, not actually read from a dog. Researchers are also still working on perfecting a monitoring system that is able to work on dogs.
While it might seem like having so many vibrations coming from the dog all the time might be a little too much, the idea is that over time the vibrations will fade into the background and become unnoticeable until they speed up.
It's important to note that while this is a health tracker, the system isn't able to tell users if the dog is sick or injured. According to Mealin, however, these things are something that guide dog users can tell pretty quickly because of how close guide dog users get with their dogs. The research group also discussed details of the research in a paper.