BRIT boffins have come up with a Fitbit-style fitness tracker for dogs.
The tech will allow owners to monitor their pets’ health and see what they are up to when left alone.
Experts say the device, which works through fur, could also aid sniffer dogs hunting bombs, drugs and missing persons. And vets could use the tracker to monitor animals during surgery without the need for shaving.
Dr Firat Guder, of Imperial College London, said: “Wearables are expected to play a major role in monitoring health and detecting diseases early.”
“Our stretchy, flexible invention heralds a whole new type of sensor that can track the health of animals and humans alike over fur or clothing.”
The device is made from a silicone-water material which moulds to the shape of fur, clothing or body it is placed on.
This allows an inbuilt microphone to pick up sound waves — like a stethoscope — which are transmitted to a computer.
Researchers believe integrated motion sensors may let owners track their pets in real time on a smartphone app.
It would show where their dogs are and whether they are standing, sitting or lying down.
The team say the device would be especially helpful to sniffer dogs.
They are trained to sit or bark when they detect a target object such as a bomb or person stuck in rubble after an earthquake.
When dogs “alert” to target objects, their heart and breathing rates increase because they are excited to be rewarded.
Researchers say the sensor could help measure alerting behaviour.
An inbuilt algorithm might be able to tell the strength of the dog’s reaction to the smell it detects and even how sure the dog is of finding the desired object.
The sensors have already been tested on dogs and humans.
And the experts hope to also adapt them for use on other animals.
Researcher Yasin Cotur told the journal of Advanced Functional Materials: “The next step is to validate our system further with animals, primarily focusing on sniffer dogs and then horses and livestock.”