There are a few reasons why mankind and dogs have adapted to live together. Some say it's because humanity was ruled by cats in Egyptian times and dogs helped free us from their slavery. Others say it is because dogs and humans are pack animals and enjoy company. For many, a dog gives us the perfect excuse to get out of the house and enjoy a little outside time, exercise and the companionship of something that enjoys almost everything you throw at him or her.
And now at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, Binatone have showcased the Motorola Scout 5000 dog-wearable, which is as crazy as it sounds from the name. The Scout 5000 has a number of features to justify the $200 / £130 price tag, including GPS tracking with a geo-fence alert (this sends an alert straight to your smartphone with your dog exceeds his or her boundaries), onboard Wi-Fi and 3G, a pedometer and a wide-angle 720p resolution camera. There's a microphone and speaker, too, so not only can you see what your dog is up to, you can hear and also talk back. The microphone has a "bark detection" mode, which can notify you without making you hear the sound.
The backbone of the technology is a platform called Hubble, described as an "Internet of Things (IoT) Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)." This means it can handle voice over IP (VoIP, so, voice information sent over a network), video streaming and cloud-recording. The UK version has a year of subscription included, via Vodafone, as part of the price, and the collar and module are made tough as you would expect (they're described as chew, splash and paw proof).
I'm struggling to understand the rationale of giving a family pet a smartcollar. Yes, you can track the location, receive notifications when he or she is barking, and see what they're doing but these are all things that walking a few metres could probably achieve. And is surely the point of having a family pet? The unit is quite large, too; Motorola will be selling a smaller model, the Scout 2500, for about half the price that drops the camera and is better suited to smaller dogs. These two models will join a range of other connected pet monitoring systems including the Scout 1500, a motion-sensitive web camera that includes a microphone, and the Scout 66, another Hubble-connected device. Perhaps there's a better case for a working dog in rural areas, but dropping $200 onto each dog just to see what they're up to could get very expensive?