Tech makers market health wearables to dog owners

Early last year, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a subsidiary of subscriptions-services provider Intersections ($INTX) made a splash when it previewed a collar that's much like Fitbit for dogs. The product, called Voyce, just hit the market. And the company is hoping that people who use mobile technologies like Fitbit and Apple's ($AAPL) iHealth to keep themselves healthy will adopt the same approach for their dogs.

Voyce, which comes in four sizes, sells for $299 plus a $9.95-per-month membership fee to a portal stocked with advice from veterinarians and pet wellness experts. The device monitors vital signs such as heart rate and respiratory rate, as well as tracking how much activity and sleep dogs who wear it are getting. Owners can chart changes in their dogs' wellness statistics over time via an accompanying mobile app. And they can export the data into a PDF file, which they can share with their veterinarians.

Voyce was scheduled for a launch last summer, but Intersections hit a wall with the FCC, which needed time to develop a new protocol for testing and certifying the technology. That's because the collar uses low-frequency radio waves to take its measurements of dogs' vital signs.

Now Voyce, which is made by Intersections subsidiary i4C Innovations, is entering a hot market that seems to be getting more crowded by the day. Kansas City-based FitBark also launched its wearable for dogs early this year. Other players include WhistleGPS and Tractive Motion (which also works on cats).

Whether these devices will catch on with pet owners remains to be seen, but there's no doubt wearable health technologies have caught the public's imagination. The overall global market for wearable devices is predicted to grow 34% by 2020, from 17 million shipments in 2013 to 187.2 million, according to a recent report from Tractica. Mobile fitness trackers for people are driving much of the growth, as is the recent introduction of the Apple Watch.

And a host of startups have jumped into the market of mobile apps for pet owners. Among the new crop of pet-care apps are DoggyDoc, Itchology, and VetPronto.

- here's the Voyce press release
- read more at PC World

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