CSIRO’s Data61 and agtech company Ceres Tag are joining forces to develop a pet tracking collar that the joint venture hopes will outperform those already on the market.

The project adapts some of the technology Ceres and Data61 were using for ear tags that track grazing livestock in order to monitor their health and activity.

Dr Phil Valencia, Senior Research Engineer at Data61, said the same activity data that agriculturalists find valuable will also be relevant for pet owners – kind of like a Fitbit for cats and dogs.

“Owners will get valuable insights into how their pet has behaved throughout the day, with the system identifying if the animal’s activity is above or below its typical levels, and whether it was significantly different at a certain time of day,” Dr Valencia said.

Existing Ceres Tag devices use algorithms that take data from an in-built accelerometer to predict signs of disease and illness in cattle to make it easier for farmers to intervene early before a disease spreads through the herd.

For the pet tracker, owners will be able receive data about their pet’s activity on their phones and get alerts when their pet has ventured out of a pre-determined boundary.

There’s no shortage of pet tracking collars with similar features already on the market.

Nut Tag has been selling GPS trackers since 2013 and has products for pets, personal objects like keys, and even children or the elderly.

Fi has dog-specific collars that come with different technologies (a combination of GPS, cellular, or WiFi) depending on how much you expect your dog to get out and about.

And GPS company Garmin has its own range of bulky trackers that are marketed toward owners of hunting dogs.

Where Data61 and Ceres believe they outperform existing pet trackers is through the mix of technology – Bluetooth at short range and GPS outside home networks – that will make their device cheaper and with a longer battery life than competitors.

“Ceres is leveraging all its learnings from the livestock smart tag development to create a superior product in the companion animal market utilising the skills of our very capable development team,” said CEO of Ceres Tag, Lewis Frost.

The Ceres Tag pet tracking prototype is currently in development.