My design prompt was to design something for sled dogs that would warn their owners about when their dogs were going to get hypothermia or die from exhaustion during races. My solution to the problem of owners not knowing about their dogs’ health was to make a dog coat with sensors to warn owners about their dogs’ problems.
There is only one iteration of my product, and almost everything works well. The sensors that I included in the jacket both do what they are meant to do. The temperature sensor senses when the body temperature is too low, and the LED strips on the jacket light up to show that. The EMG also senses what it has to, and the LEDs light up blue to show slow muscle contractions. The ear clip that hold the temperature sensor to the dog’s ear is sturdy and will not fall apart anytime soon. Because dogs have fur, I could not find a way to make my own heart rate monitor, but there is one already, called the Voyce. The Whole circuit fits on the coat, but the coat does not look as good as I would have liked. Since I do not have a design team, I used a store bought coat which did not allow me to put the electronics inside of the coat so I had to put everything on top of the jacket. If I had more time and also a design team, I would create a coat to put the circuit in, and I would also find a way to measure the dog’s heart rate using a collar.
The dog coat works by measuring the body temperature and the time it takes for the dogs muscles to contract. If the dog’s body temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the LED strip on the coat lights up red. If the dog’s muscle contractions are too slow, it can be a sign of exhaustion. If the muscle contractions take a long time, then the LEDs glow blue. If both sensors detect problems in the dog, the LED strip lights up purple. When the dog’s owner sees the coat lighting up a specific color, they know what problem has been detected and can either give the dogs a break, or warm them up.
The Iditarod is a 1,000 mile dog sled race across Alaska during which the sled dog racers must go through mountain ranges, frozen rivers, tundra, and blizzards in temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit. During these races, the dogs that pull the racers’ sleds can get hurt or even die without the racers knowing what is happening to them. Sled dogs can get hypothermia because their owners do not know how cold the dogs are, and they can also die of exhaustion since they must pull their owners, a sled, and survival gear in such frigid conditions. I have designed a coat for the sled dogs that can warn their owners about the beginnings of hypothermia, and also tell them when the dog needs a rest. The main signs of early hypothermia are a slow pulse and a body temperature below 95 degrees, while the sign of exhaustion is slowed muscle contractions. Because of these signs, my dog coat has a temperature sensor that goes in the ear, attached by a clip and an Electromyography sensor (EMG) that goes on the front right leg of the dog. Because dogs have fur I was unable to find a way to measure the heartbeat, but there is a new dog collar that measures heartbeat using a patented technology which utilizes low frequency radio waves. The sensors are connected to an Arduino that has an LED light strip attached to it on the outside of the coat. If the dog’s body temperature drops to below 95 degrees, the light strip glows red, and if the muscle contractions become very slow, the lights glow blue. In the case that both the temperature and muscle contraction times are at a dangerous level, the light strip glows purple. If I had a working heart rate monitor, I would have made the lights glow green for a slow pulse, yellow for both slow pulse and low body temperature, turquoise for slow muscle contractions, and white for if all three of the sensors detected problems.