Created in 2016-2017 by Japanese biologist Joji Yamaguchi, the Inupathy collar
is a smart collar, designed to let you read your dog's mind, quite literally.
It's basically a non-invasive interface between the dog's body and the collar's
electronics. It is in effect a glorified heart beat rate monitor. However, therein
lies the trick. Our hearts don't beat at a steady rate, and neither does a dog's.
Instead the interval between beats changes depending on state of excitement,
mood, concentration level et al.
This is known as 'heart rate variability' or HRV. By measuring the HRV of an
individual against the base heart rate of that same individual, it is possible
to psychologically determine the current mental state of that individual.
In other words, by learning the rhythms of an individual dog's heart and mapping
existing models of known causes of heart rate variability, the collar can work
out what the dog's current mental mood I, to a high degree of accuracy.
A series of LEDs forming a display across the back of the dog's neck then light
up, colour-coordinated to the emotion the dog is currently feeling. It's an
empathic connection we usually form with our dogs over time and intimacy, but,
lacking as we do a common language with the dog, this natural bond doesn't always
get it quite right. Countless dog owners will be able to attest to the times
when their dog is trying desperately to tell them something, but what
that something is, is anyone's guess.
The inupathy attempts to provide something of a common language we can't
translate from it the dog's exact thoughts, but we can tell mood, and almost
instantly tell when mood changes, in response to an offered stimuli from
frustration (no, this isn't what I wanted), to happiness (Yes! You finally get
it!) to any of a wide range in between.
Specifically, the collar is able to detect from monitoring the dog's heartrate,
the following mental states:
- Excitement red LEDs.
- Calm blue LEDs.
- Happiness a procession of red, white, and purple LEDs chasing each
other across the collar display.
- Concentration White LEDs.
- The four mental states are each additionally marked in intensity from 0
to 100 (barely there, to 'drowning out everything else' in the system's internal
The collar does of course require some figuring out still. It's not possible
currently, to determine between excitement states frustration and anger
both show up as excitement for example. But, excitement in the collar's case
means elevated heart rate from a mood change that is distinct from happy.
So if the dog is excited instead of happy, it may not be a positive kind of
excitement. The rest is down to the people interacting with the dog to read
body language cues, or to check if the dog was happy just before the collar
showed excitement and if it's flicking back and forth between the two
Keeping a record of the dog's previous emotional states is actually quite easy.
The collar interfaces with an app for your smartphone, and stores data 'in the
cloud' (Read: On the device till you access the app on a nearby smartphone to
check that dog. Then the collar talks to the phone via a bluetooth connection,
and the phone keeps a record of the data on your online account. This allows
you to keep a long-term record of your dog's heart rate and their emotional
That leads us on to the collar's secondary function. Not the one it is primarily
marketed for, but arguably its most important. It is in essence, a wearable
heart monitor that's always attached to your dog. It's basically a home healthcare
station for monitoring their vital statistics over time, allowing you the facilities
to tell if something's up with their heart, or their overall health.
For example if your dog is getting fatter, that alone may or may not be a cause
for concern. But, if paired with the statistics on their real-time heart beat,
you can see if their heart is having to work harder to push the blood around
(a symptom of clogged arteries perhaps, as opposed to being overweight but still
healthy). You can then check the data in the cloud for the past few days, weeks,
or months, to see if the heart started to struggle more as they put the weight
As such, it provides a very powerful health screening tool that your dog always
The collar itself is really more of a harness than a collar. The collar is
adjustable for any size of dog, but the rear of the collar is a solid, hard
plastic unit that's designed to rest just on the dog's neck. It has a slight
weight to it to keep it centred, and contains a small solid state storage system,
batteries, a bluetooth networking system, the LEDs and of course the collar's
computer system. With a normal collar keeping the solid part of the collar centred
would never work, so the collar is more of a harness than a collar a
second loop wraps around the dog's belly, just behind the forelegs.
This also enables the heart sensor itself, to rest on the chest, against the
heart. It's a tiny thing, not even as wide as the collar's fabric, so it is
protected within the collar, and communicates via a thin wire threaded through
the middle of the lower band, to the hard plastic unit itself always
staying within the very core of the collar. The two collar loops are connected
at the back, and the design places the two loops at very different angles, so
the collar's not going to slip around, but at the same time isn't putting any
uncomfortable pressure on the dog, and has no risk of choking them.
The unit's batteries are rechargeable, and are rated to last between four and
eight hours on a charge. The difference being down to dog activity levels, with
a more active, moody dog draining the battery much faster than a calm, sedate
one. It is a single feedback channel device meaning it only tracks a
single input (heart rate). So, the only time energy is used is when it is tracking
the interval between beats, or when it is sending data to a nearby smartphone.
As a consequence, an active dog, with a faster average heart rate is going to
require much more work tracking and calculating the variance between beats than
a sedate one is in the same time frame. Hence why the active dog drains the
battery life considerably faster, down to approx 4 hours minimum.
It's also worth noting hat in order to keep costs down, the collar itself and
all components within, are 3D printed, with the initial development raised by
crowd sourcing. This means individual units can be manufactured pretty much
on demand, if required, with no traditional manufacturing overheads.
The developers have promised to release a software development kit (SDK) in
the near future, so that custom applications based on the collar's hardware
and data generation capabilities can be developed by interested third parties.
Whilst the collar may be suitable for other quadruped mammals (cats, non-domestic
canines, other small mammals) please bear in mind, it has been calibrated for
the canine heart, and may produce wildly differing results on other animals.
For example, it would definitely function if applied to a cow, but the data
you would get back, due to the animal's size, habitat, mentality and simple
behaviour differences, would render the data nonsensical, without at least,
use of a SDK to account for the species difference.
The collar was not designed for bipedal use, and is not recommended for application
to small humans. The difference in stance radically alters heart performance,
and the item may pose a health risk, due to anatomical differences between human
head/limb placement and dog head/limb placement, as well as acknowledging the
device was meant to work through a layer of fur, not necessarily direct skin
contact. . The HRV system will still work if held against a living human, but
again the data will be completely different, and the collar attachment is absolutely
not recommended for this use. Basically, if you're planning to use it to biohack
yourself, friends, spouse, or dependants, there are better, safer alternatives
available. Ones which don't put pressure on the windpipe when worn by bipeds.
IndieGoGo crowdfunder (closed)
Dictionary: Brain Computer Interfaces
Dictionary: Feedback Channel
Further Reading links related to the error potential in biometric systems,
of which the collar is one:
A primary reason why the device detects only four general emotional states
is due to the nature of detecting false positives/negatives in biometrics,
and the more specific the signal you're looking for, the more likely an incorrect
match will be made. These links are here to provide a jumping off point to
understand why Inupathy only detects four general mood states, when detecting
many more from HRV is technically possible.
Dictionary: False Match Rate
Virtual Dictionary: False Reject Rate
Virtual Dictionary: False Non-Match Rate
Virtual Dictionary: False Accept Rate