Our assessments of the wellbeing of our pets are educated guesses at best. Toni Koutu used to have to guess a lot when caring for his four Parson Russell Terriers, all of different ages and activity levels. Koutu couldn’t help but wonder if the youngest one got too tired on long walks, whereas the most energetic one might want to keep on going.
“As there’s no real data available, it’s just a subjective evaluation you make watching your dogs and observing their behaviour,” Koutu says. “All kinds of activity gadgets measuring us humans are abundant and everywhere, but the only thing for dogs was a GPS tracker for hunters.”
Koutu’s solution is Anaxeos, developed by his company Sense of Intelligence. Anaxeos is a lightweight vest with sensors that track things such as heart rate and temperature, connected to a mobile app that then reveals the data and interprets them so that the dog’s carer can take action.
It also enables monitoring the dog’s condition even when the owner is on holiday thousands of kilometres away.
“Anaxeos doesn’t make pie charts and histograms,” Koutu explains. “Instead, it makes sense of the numbers and gives alerts and suggestions regarding things like what to do if your dog’s temperature is too high.”
Koutu emphasises that the product isn’t a speech generator; the data speak, but the dog still doesn’t. However, the idea is to improve understanding by bringing the lives of the pet and its owner closer to each other. Koutu calls this improving the shared life of two separate beings.
Barcelona blew the bank
Anaxeos isn’t yet on the shop shelves, but pre-sales will begin as soon as possible. The product has gathered plenty of intrigue from all over the world, particularly when Koutu was presenting it at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in February. For example, Bloomberg chose it as one of its top picks from the event.
“It was pretty crazy,” Koutu recalls, “to be there alongside giants like Amazon and Samsung, and then this one-man company gets people so excited.”
Sense of Intelligence aims to deliver the pre-orders by Christmas. Koutu believes that although Finns will be the first ones to get their hands on the product, dog owners from everywhere will be interested. Particularly in Europe and North America, as well as in Asia, pet owners are investing more and more money in their pets’ health and accessories.
“Dogs are omnipresent as pets, particularly in Western societies,” he notes. “In this day and age, people are willing to invest in their wellbeing.”
A long history between best friends
Koutu runs Sense of Intelligence mostly alone, with the help of investors as well as experts in animal health and sensor technology. He laughingly says that the company was founded by him and his dogs together.
His own background is in information technology, first almost 14 years with Nokia and then as an independent consultant. Dogs have been by his side throughout the whole time.
Love for dogs is also the inspiration for the product name. According to a Greek legend, Anaxeos was the owner of a dog called Parthenope on the island of Lesbos. When the dog passed away, Anaxeos added a heartwarming text on the gravestone, paying tribute to their partnership.
“It goes to show that the journeys of our lives are closely knit together, and have been so for a very long time,” Koutu says. “Our pets mean the world to us, and so should their happiness, too.”