GB2551430A - Animal monitoring - Google Patents

Animal monitoring Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2551430A
GB2551430A GB1706633.3A GB201706633A GB2551430A GB 2551430 A GB2551430 A GB 2551430A GB 201706633 A GB201706633 A GB 201706633A GB 2551430 A GB2551430 A GB 2551430A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
animal
monitoring unit
data
monitoring
behaviour
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Pending
Application number
GB1706633.3A
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GB201706633D0 (en
Inventor
Smith Sharon
Original Assignee
Smith Sharon
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Publication date
Priority to GBGB1607610.1A priority Critical patent/GB201607610D0/en
Application filed by Smith Sharon filed Critical Smith Sharon
Publication of GB201706633D0 publication Critical patent/GB201706633D0/en
Publication of GB2551430A publication Critical patent/GB2551430A/en
Pending legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K11/00Marking of animals
    • A01K11/006Automatic identification systems for animals, e.g. electronic devices, transponders for animals
    • A01K11/008Automatic identification systems for animals, e.g. electronic devices, transponders for animals incorporating GPS
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K29/00Other apparatus for animal husbandry
    • A01K29/005Monitoring or measuring activity, e.g. detecting heat or mating
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/0002Remote monitoring of patients using telemetry, e.g. transmission of vital signals via a communication network
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1104Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb induced by stimuli or drugs
    • A61B5/1105Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb induced by stimuli or drugs of laboratory animals, e.g. activity
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1112Global tracking of patients, e.g. by using GPS
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/112Gait analysis
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1123Discriminating type of movement, e.g. walking or running
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1126Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb using a particular sensing technique
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6801Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient specially adapted to be attached to or worn on the body surface
    • A61B5/6802Sensor mounted on worn items
    • A61B5/6803Head-worn items, e.g. helmets, masks, headphones or goggles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6801Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient specially adapted to be attached to or worn on the body surface
    • A61B5/6813Specially adapted to be attached to a specific body part
    • A61B5/6814Head
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B2503/00Evaluating a particular growth phase or type of persons or animals
    • A61B2503/40Animals
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B2560/00Constructional details of operational features of apparatus; Accessories for medical measuring apparatus
    • A61B2560/02Operational features
    • A61B2560/0204Operational features of power management
    • A61B2560/0209Operational features of power management adapted for power saving
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B2562/00Details of sensors; Constructional details of sensor housings or probes; Accessories for sensors
    • A61B2562/02Details of sensors specially adapted for in-vivo measurements
    • A61B2562/0219Inertial sensors, e.g. accelerometers, gyroscopes, tilt switches
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1121Determining geometric values, e.g. centre of rotation or angular range of movement
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1121Determining geometric values, e.g. centre of rotation or angular range of movement
    • A61B5/1122Determining geometric values, e.g. centre of rotation or angular range of movement of movement trajectories
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/48Other medical applications
    • A61B5/4806Sleep evaluation
    • A61B5/4809Sleep detection, i.e. determining whether a subject is asleep or not
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/48Other medical applications
    • A61B5/4842Monitoring progression or stage of a disease
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/48Other medical applications
    • A61B5/4848Monitoring or testing the effects of treatment, e.g. of medication
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/72Signal processing specially adapted for physiological signals or for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/7235Details of waveform analysis
    • A61B5/7253Details of waveform analysis characterised by using transforms
    • A61B5/7257Details of waveform analysis characterised by using transforms using Fourier transforms

Abstract

Apparatus 101 for monitoring an equine animal 1001 comprises a casing (102 Fig 1) located at the poll 1002 of the head 1003 of the equine animal. The casing houses a monitoring unit (501 Fig 5), which comprises a sensor arrangement (1103 Fig 11), a data processor (1101 Fig 11) with access to data storage and for processing received sensor signals to identify acquired data representative of a behavior definition, a communication interface (1104 Fig 11) and a power source (1106 Fig 11). The monitoring unit may be configured to store data over a period of time allowing the time and duration of each behavior definition to be determined. The sensor arrangement comprises a tri-axial accelerometer (1107 Fig 11) for detecting motion and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver (1108 Fig 11) for detecting location. The data processor is configured to sample the tri-axial accelerometer at a sampling rate in the range 8Hz to 25Hz inclusive, preferably 12Hz to 13Hz inclusive. A method of monitoring the behavior of an animal using said apparatus is also claimed.

Description

ANIMAL MONITORING

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to animal monitoring, in particular to detecting and recording one or more behaviours of an equine animal, such as a horse or a pony.

Background of the Invention

In various scenarios, animal monitoring systems can be used to support the health, fitness and well-being of an animal.

In one scenario, it can be useful for an owner, guardian, trainer or rider of a horse to be able to monitor the gait of the horse, in particular during exercise, in order to identify any gait abnormality that may be indicative of pain or discomfort, disease, a locomotor or neuromuscular dysfunction or disorder, or a recent or past injury. In another scenario, it can be useful to be able to monitor the activity of a horse ‘in the field’, in order to detect a behaviour, a recurrent behaviour or a behaviour irregularity that may indicate that the horse requires attention. US 6,699,207 B2 discloses a computer-based diagnostic system to detect and analyse ground reaction forces produced by an animal, for use in detecting lameness, the computer-based diagnostic system comprising first and second plates, first and second pluralities of load cells and a processor, and being configured to calculate a magnitude and location of a force applied to the plates by the animal that can be used to analyse the gait of the animal.

According to a known system for gait analysis, markers are placed manually at various locations on the body of the animal and the animal is then led along a predetermined course located in the view of a high-speed camera that captures a sequence of images that can be used to analyse the gait of the animal. US 2008/0021352 AI discloses a system for evaluating lameness in a four-legged animal, in which signals from motion sensors outfitted on the animal and generating data representative of a head motion, a pelvis motion and at least one limb motion during a stride of the animal is processed with reference to at least one reference pattern.

The prior art systems are complex, expensive, time-consuming to use and can involve the animal being subject to an unfamiliar experience.

Summary of the Invention

According to a first aspect there is provided apparatus for monitoring the behaviour of an equine animal, said apparatus comprising: a casing for location at the poll of the head of an equine animal to be monitored, the casing housing a monitoring unit, said monitoring unit comprising: a sensor arrangement, the sensor arrangement comprising: a triaxial accelerometer for detecting motion, and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver for detecting location; a data processor with access to data storage and for processing received sensor signals to acquire data processable to identify a behaviour definition; a communication interface; and a power source; wherein said data processor is configured to sample said triaxial accelerometer at a sampling rate in the range 8Hz to 25Hz inclusive.

In a preferred embodiment, the data processor is configured to sample the triaxial accelerometer at a sampling rate in the range 12Hz to 13Hz inclusive.

In an embodiment, the casing comprises securing means. The securing means may be any suitable type for releasably securing the casing relative to an animal to be monitored. The securing means may be configured to allow the casing to be releasably secured to one or more of: a fly fringe, a headgear strap, a head collar or halter, a bridle, a grazing muzzle, a device attachment element, the hair or fur of the animal.

The behaviour definition may be associated with any behaviour. The behaviour definition may be associated with one of: gait asymmetry, standing, alert standing, relaxed standing, laying down, laying down position, rolling, tail swishing, head shaking, head scratching or rubbing, head position, grazing, irregular grazing, feeding, bite-rate, drinking, walking, trotting, cantering, galloping, jumping, kicking, sudden halting, inactivity, a stereotypic behaviour, cribbing, weaving, head-tossing, allogrooming, flehmen response.

The monitoring unit may have one or more data storage/processing modes.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit is configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

In an embodiment, the data processor is configured to perform pre-processing of raw acquired data, and the monitoring unit is configured to store pre-processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The monitoring unit may also be configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

In an embodiment, the data processor is configured to perform processing of raw acquired data to identify acquired data representative of a behaviour definition, and the monitoring unit is configured to store processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The data processor may also be configured to perform pre-processing of raw acquired data, and store pre-processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The monitoring unit may also be configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

The monitoring unit may be configured to store processed data over a period of time in a format allowing the actual time and duration of each occurrence of a behaviour definition to be determined.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit is configured to communicate acquired data to an external data storage resource.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit is monitoring unit is configured to communicate with a user device. The monitoring unit may be configured to communicate with a user device using a wireless connection. Alternatively, or additionally, the monitoring unit may be monitoring unit is configured to communicate with a user device using a wired connection.

The user device may be any suitable device. The user device may be one of: a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a mobile telecommunications device.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit is configured to compare acquired data with stored data representative of a behaviour definition threshold, and to initiate a user-notification in response to identification of a behaviour definition threshold exceeded condition. The behaviour definition threshold may be user-adjustable.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit is configured to receive sensor signals from an external sensor arrangement comprising one or more sensors. The external sensor arrangement may comprise any suitable type of sensor or sensors. The external sensor arrangement may comprise at least one of: a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a heart-rate sensor, a pressure sensor, a tension meter, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), an electromyography sensor.

In an embodiment, the data processor is configured to process acquired data to provide an indication of at least one of: estimated energy used (MJ), estimated energy eaten (MJ), estimated percent forage of diet

Preferably, the operation of the apparatus is designed to mimic human observation. The apparatus can be provided in an unobtrusive package that does not bother the animal being monitored. The apparatus can be carried by the animal over an extended period, during which time sensor data is automatically obtained and logged.

According to a second aspect, apparatus according to the first aspect is used to monitor the behaviour of an equine animal. The equine animal may be a horse.

According to a third aspect, there is provided a method of monitoring the behaviour of an animal, said method comprising the steps of: locating the apparatus of the first aspect at the poll of the head of an animal to be monitored, and processing acquired sensor data to identify a behaviour definition. The animal may be an equine animal. The equine animal may be a horse.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The present invention will now be more particularly described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure I shows an embodiment of an animal monitoring device of apparatus according to the invention;

Figure 2 shows the animal monitoring device secured to a strap;

Figure 3 shows the animal monitoring device secured to an animal;

Figure 4 shows a casing of the animal monitoring device;

Figure 5 shows a monitoring unit of the animal monitoring device;

Figures 6 & 7 show further views of the monitoring unit of Figure 5;

Figure 8 shows a cross-sectional view of the monitoring unit of Figure 5 housed within the casing of Figure I ;

Figure 9 shows an illumination feature of the animal monitoring device;

Figure 10 shows the animal monitoring device of Figure I in use on a horse; Figure I I shows a schematic of the monitoring unit;

Figure 12 illustrates example communication features of the monitoring unit; Figure 13 illustrates features of an example graphical user interface of a software application usable with the animal monitoring device of Figure I;

Figure 14 shows example data traces obtained from the animal monitoring device of Figure I; and

Figure 15 illustrates example further communication features of the animal monitoring device of Figure I.

Description

Example embodiments are described below in sufficient detail to enable those of ordinary skill in the art to embody and implement the apparatus, systems, methods and processes herein described. It is important to understand that embodiments can be provided in many alternate forms and should not be construed as limited to the examples set forth herein and that the scope of the invention is limited by the scope of the appended claims.

The present invention provides apparatus for monitoring an animal. The apparatus will be described herein with reference to monitoring an equine animal, in particular a horse, although it is to be appreciated that the apparatus may be used to monitor other types of animals.

An animal monitoring device 101 according to a specific embodiment is shown in Figure I. The animal monitoring device 101 comprises a casing 102. In a preferred application, the casing 102 is provided for location at the poll of the head of an equine animal to be monitored. According to this illustrated embodiment, casing 102 is provided with securing means for releasably securing the animal monitoring device 101 relative to the equine animal to be monitored. The securing means may be any suitable type. The securing means may comprise one or more fasteners (such as clips or buckles), loops, or slots.

In an embodiment, the securing means is configured to allow the casing 102 to be releasably secured to one or more of: a fly fringe, a headgear strap, a head collar or halter, a bridle, a grazing muzzle, a device attachment element the hair or fur of the animal. The securing means may be configured to accommodate different widths and thicknesses of strap, may be adjustable and may be replaceable or interchangeable.

In Figure 2, the animal monitoring device 101 is shown secured to a strap 201. The casing 102 may be secured onto or around the strap in any suitable way. According to this illustrated embodiment, the casing 102 is removably securable onto the strap 201. The strap 201 may be part of, or arranged to be attached to, an item that is worn by an animal, for example a bridle or other headgear. Thus, the animal monitoring device 101 may be indirectly secured to an animal to be monitored.

Alternatively, the animal monitoring device 101 may be directly secured to an animal to be monitored.

In Figure 3, the animal monitoring device 101 is shown attached to the mane 301 of an equine animal. According to this illustrated embodiment, the casing 102 is removably securable to the mane of an equine animal. The casing 102 may be secured to or using the mane, other hair or fur of an animal in any suitable way. For example, the casing 102 may be plaited or braided, or woven, into the hair, or may be clipped to the hair.

The ability to secure the animal monitoring device 101 directly onto an animal to be monitored is advantageous when it is not desired to leave headwear or tack on the animal. For example, in the case of a horse, it may be desirable to avoid leaving a halter or other headwear on the horse over a prolonged period and/or when the horse is not under the supervision of a human. This may be due to concerns relating to animal comfort and/or animal safety. Whatever the reason, being able to secure the animal monitoring device 101 to directly to the animal overcomes any issues that may be associated with the use of headwear.

Further details of the casing 102 of the animal monitoring device 101 are shown in Figure 4. In this example, the casing 102 comprises a main body portion 401 that defines a receiving volume therein and a flap portion 402 that is movable relative to the main body portion 401 between an open position and a closed position.

In this illustrated specific embodiment, the casing 102 comprises securing means that is provided by the main body portion 401 and the flap portion 402, as will be described below.

The main body portion 401 presents a hook element 403 and the flap portion 402 defines an aperture 404 therein. In this Figure, the casing 102 is shown with the flap portion 402 in an open position, such as in preparation for being secured for use. To secure the flap portion 402 in a closed position, the flap portion 402 is hooked over the hook element 403, such that the hook element 403 of the main body portion 401 extends through the aperture 404 of the flap portion 402.

To secure the casing 102 onto a strap or section of mane, the flap portion 402 is opened from the main body portion 402. The casing 102 is then located relative to the strap or section of mane with the main body portion 401 disposed to one side of the strap or section of mane and the flap portion 402 disposed to the other side of the strap or section of mane. The flap portion 402 is then hooked onto the main body portion 401, trapping the strap or section of mane between the flap portion 402 and the main body portion 401 of the casing 102.

As can be seen in this Figure, according to this illustrated specific embodiment, the main body portion 402 of casing 102 defines an aperture 405 open to the receiving volume defined therein. In this example, the aperture 405 is defined in a lower end 406 of the main body portion 402, along which the flap portion 402 extends when in the closed position.

The casing 102 may be fabricated from any suitable material or combination of materials. In an example, the casing is fabricated from a plastics material. In an alternative example, the casing is fabricated from a rubber material. In an embodiment, the casing is fabricated from a silicone material.

It is to be appreciated that the material or combination of materials from which the casing is fabricated may vary between embodiments, example and applications and may be selected according to such characteristics as flexibility, resilience, durability, weight, weather resistance, texture, light transparency, aesthetic appeal, cleanability. The casing may also have any suitable dimensions, shape and arrangement. However, it is preferable for the shape of the casing to be curved, and aerodynamic, and not to present any sharp edges, which may pose a risk of rubbing or snagging. The casing may be manufactured using any suitable method, process or technique or any suitable combination of manufacturing steps.

Further details of animal monitoring device 101 are shown in Figure 5. According to this illustrated embodiment, the casing 102 of the animal monitoring device 101 is configured to house a monitoring unit 501.

In a preferred embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is removably beatable within the casing 102. In this example, monitoring unit 501 is insertable into the main body portion 402 through aperture 405 and is also subsequently withdrawable from the main body portion 402 though aperture 405. In this Figure, monitoring unit 501 is shown outside of the casing 102.

According to the shown arrangement, when the monitoring unit 501 is housed within the main body portion 402 of the casing 102, and the flap portion 402 is secured in the closed position, the flap portion 402 extends across the aperture 405 such that the flap portion 402 must be opened away from the main body portion 401 in order for the monitoring unit 401 housed therein to be properly accessed.

It is to be appreciated that any suitable arrangement for removably holding the monitoring unit 501 within the casing 102 may be utilised. In an alternative arrangement the flap portion 402 is not used to hold the monitoring unit 501 within the casing 102.

Allowing the monitoring unit 501 to be removed from the casing 102 provides several advantages, including enabling different monitoring units to be used in a particular casing and enabling a monitoring unit to be placed in an alternative casing in the event of casing damage.

Further details of the monitoring unit 501 of the animal monitoring device 101 are shown in Figures 6 & 7.

Referring to Figure 6, monitoring unit 501 comprises a housing 601. In this illustrated specific embodiment, a hook element 602 extends from the housing 601. In this example, the hook element 602 extends from a first end surface 603 of the housing 601. The purpose of the hook element 602 will be explained below.

Optionally, and according to this illustrated specific embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 presents an illumination element 604. In this example, the illumination element 604 is located along an upper surface 605 of the housing 601. In a specific example, the illumination element 604 comprises at least one light-emitting diode (LED). It is to be appreciated that the illumination element 604 may comprise one or more illumination components, may be configured to emit light of one or more colours, and may be configured to operate different modes of illumination, for example continual illumination, blinking or flashing on/off or brighter/duller illumination, different speeds of blinking or flashing, different patterns of blinking or flashing.

Referring to Figure 7, in this illustrated specific embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 presents a communication interface element 701. In this example, communication interface element 701 is positioned along a second end surface 702 of the housing 601, opposite the first end surface 603. In a specific example, the communication interface element 701 comprises a USB connector, in this illustrated example, a male USB connector.

As indicated in this Figure, in this illustrated specific embodiment, the housing 601 comprises a first housing portion 703 and a second housing portion 704, which together provide an internal chamber. In an embodiment, the first and second housing portions 703, 704 are releasably engageable. In the shown arrangement, the hook element 602 and the communication interface element 701 extend from the second, lower housing portion 704. In the illustrated specific example, the hook element 602 is formed as an integral feature of the second housing portion 704 but the second housing portion 704 defines an aperture 705 through which the communication interface element 701 extends from within the internal chamber of the housing 601, and the first housing portion 703 defines an aperture 706 within which the illumination element 604 is sited.

The housing 601 may be fabricated from any suitable material or combination of materials. In an example, the housing is fabricated from an ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic.

The material or combination of materials from which the housing is fabricated may vary between embodiments, example and applications and may be selected according to such characteristics as rigidity, durability and weight. The monitoring unit and housing thereof may have any suitable dimensions, shape and arrangement In addition, the monitoring unit and housing thereof may be manufactured using any suitable method, process or technique or any suitable combination of manufacturing steps.

Figure 8 illustrates the monitoring unit 501 located within the casing 102 of the animal monitoring device 101, with the monitoring unit 501 within the receiving volume defined by the main body portion 401 and with the flap portion 402 secured in the closed position.

According to this illustrated specific embodiment, and as shown, the hook element 602 of the monitoring unit 603 extends within the hook element 403 of the casing 102, in an arrangement which serves to maintain the monitoring unit 501 properly positioned.

In an alternative assembly arrangement, an upper region of the hook element 602 of the monitoring unit 603 may be exposed, in other words not covered by the casing 102, such that the flap portion 402 can be brought into contact with the hook element 602 as the flap portion 402 is secured in the closed position.

In the shown arrangement, the internal surface of the casing 102, defining the receiving volume, is generally profiled to receive the monitoring unit 501 therein with a fit that is snug enough to reduce movement but that also allows convenient removal of the monitoring unit 501 from within the casing 102. For example, a region 801 of the receiving volume is shaped to accommodate the communication interface element 701, In addition, in this specific embodiment, the lower surface 802 of the monitoring unit 501, when housed within the main body portion 401 of the casing 102, extends fully across the aperture 405 so that the monitoring unit 501 is maintained in the housed condition.

In this illustrated specific embodiment, the casing 102 is fabricated from a silicone material and a portion 803 of the walling of the main body portion 401 of the casing 102, corresponding to the region in which the illumination element 604 is positioned when the monitoring unit 501 is housed therein, has reduced thickness to allow light emitted from the illumination element 604 to be visible from the outside of the casing 102.

As shown in Figure 9, the animal monitoring device 101 is configured such that indicia 901 can be illuminated by an illumination element for visual detection by a user. The indicia 901 may take any suitable form, and may comprise one or more of: a logo, a symbol, a pattern, an alphanumeric character, a graphic element The illumination feature may be used to convey different information to a user.

The feature of illumination of the animal monitoring device 101 may be usefully convey different information to a user, for example, relating to the mode of operation of the monitoring unit (monitoring, transferring data) or relating to resources of the monitoring unit (memory nearly full, power low).

Animal monitoring device 101 is shown located for use on a horse 1001 in Figure 10. In this Figure, it can be seen that the animal monitoring device 101 is located at the poll 1002 of the head 1003 of the horse 1001. The position of the poll is located along the centre-line of the neck, immediately behind the cranium and ears. The animal monitoring device 101 may be retained on the horse 1001 while the horse 1001 is in a field (or other pasture) or a dry lot, in a stable, barn or shelter, during schooling, training or exercise, or during a ride, race or event. A schematic of monitoring unit 501 of the animal monitoring device 101 is shown in Figure 11.

Monitoring unit 501 comprises a data processor 1101 with access to data storage 1102, a sensor arrangement 1103, a communication interface I 104, an optional illumination arrangement I 105, and a power source I 10. The sensor arrangement 1103 comprises a triaxial accelerometer I 107 for detecting motion, and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver 1108 for detecting location. The data processor 1101 is arranged for processing received sensor signals to acquire data processable to identify a behaviour definition. In an embodiment the data processor 1101 comprises a micro-processor and the data storage 1104 comprises non-volatile memory.

In an embodiment power source 1106 is a rechargeable battery. The battery may be any suitable type and may be recharged by any suitable means, for example via a mains power socket, via a USB cable connected to receive power, or via a wireless charging point. The power source I 106 may be replaceable or exchangeable.

In this specific example, the communication interface 1104 comprises the communication interface element 701 of Figure 7 and the optional illumination arrangement I 105 comprises the illumination element 604 of Figure 6.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is configured to switch between a ‘sleep’ mode and an ‘active’ mode in response to detection of a particular condition, such as an animal behaviour-based condition (for example, the animal was stationary but is now moving) or a time-based condition (for example, a period of time has elapsed).

The monitoring unit 501 may have one or more data storage/processing modes.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

In an embodiment, the data processor 1101 is configured to perform pre-processing of raw acquired data, and the monitoring unit 501 is configured to store pre-processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The monitoring unit 501 may also be configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

In an embodiment, the data processor 1101 is configured to perform processing of raw acquired data to identify acquired data representative of a behaviour definition, and the monitoring unit 501 is configured to store processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The data processor 1101 may also be configured to perform pre-processing of raw acquired data, and store pre-processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource. The monitoring unit 501 may also be configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.

Thus, in an example, the monitoring unit may simply store raw data for subsequent processing by a separate data processing device. In another example, the monitoring unit performs pre-processing of data for subsequent processing by a separate data processing device. In a further example, the monitoring unit may perform behaviour definition processing, but may also store the raw data so that it can be subsequently analysed. It is envisaged that the monitoring device may be switchable from a behaviour definition processing mode to a pre-processing or record only mode by a user or in response to detection of a low power condition.

Preferably, the sampling rate of the triaxial accelerometer 1107 is in the range 8Hz to 25Hz. More preferably, the sampling rate of the triaxial accelerometer 1107 is in the range 12Hz to 13Hz. It has been found that a sampling rate in this range provides an efficient balance between providing sufficient data for the detection and analysis of various movements in animals, in particular equids, and at the same time reducing the rate of depletion of available power and the rate of depletion of available data storage.

Sensor data obtained or received by the data processor 1101 may be used in the detection of various aspects of movement or behaviour of an animal.

Uses of data derived from the sensing arrangement I 102 will now be described, by way of example in the application of monitoring an equid. Data derived from the triaxial accelerometer I 107 may be used, for example, to perform frequency analysis of cyclical/rhythmical movements, to detect individual snatches of grass or forage, to recognise asymmetry of movement in trot, or to identify behavioural responses to irritation, such as headshaking. Data derived from the global positioning system (GPS) receiver I 108 may be used to assist in locating a misplaced animal monitoring device, to provide information about the location of the animal or the path that the animal has travelled during a certain period of time, to assist in classifying gallop behaviour. Data derived from the sensing arrangement I 102 may also be the subject of user or specialist analysis.

Data processor 1101 may be arranged to process acquired data to identify a behaviour definition and/or behaviour classification using acquired data from the data processor 1101 may be performed by a separate data processing device. A specific behaviour definition or a plurality of specific behaviour definitions may vary between applications and a specific behaviour definition may be user-selectable, user-adjustable or programmable.

By way of example, in the application of monitoring an equid, a behaviour definition may be associated with one of the following, with example related aspects in parentheses: gait asymmetry (occurrence/extent/change over time) standing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) alert standing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) relaxed standing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) laying down(occurrence/duration/frequency/location) laying down position (sternal, lateral left, lateral right) rolling (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) tail swishing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) head shaking (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) head scratching or rubbing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) head position grazing (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) feeding (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) bite-rate drinking (occurrence of and/or duration of and/or frequency of) walking (occurrence/duration/frequency/travel/speed/gait asymmetry/stride length) trotting (occurrence/duration/frequency/travel/speed/gait asymmetry/stride length) cantering (occurrence/duration/frequency/travel/speed/gait asymmetry/stride length) galloping (occurrence/duration/frequency/travel/speed/gait asymmetry/stride length) jumping kicking sudden halting inactivity (occurrence/duration/location) a stereotypic behaviour (occurrence/duration/frequency/location), such as, but limited to, cribbing, weaving, head-tossing allogrooming (occurrence/duration/frequency/location) flehmen response (occurrence/frequency/location)

It is to be appreciated that the above is not an exhaustive list of behavioural aspects or traits that may be identified and/or monitored using the apparatus of the present invention.

Sampling the triaxial accelerometer I 107 at a sampling rate in the range 8Hz to 25Hz inclusive, and more specifically in the range 12Hz to 13Hz inclusive, has provided a surprising result.

Horse gait is cyclical and naturally rhythmical. The determination of frequency of movement of an animal is relevant in behaviour classification.

In one study (Pfau et al (2005) “A method for deriving displacement data during cyclical movement using an inertial sensor”), the authors report that, from data obtained from an accelerometer placed in the region of a horse’s thoracic spine, the 4-beat rhythm of a ‘walk’ is described by a gait frequency of around I Hz and the rhythm of a ‘canter’ stride cycle 2Hz.

In the present invention, the sampling rate of the triaxial accelerometer is important for accurate behaviour definition identification.

The ‘Nyquist Sampling Theorem’, which is a principle used in the digitisation of analogue signals, states that that for faithful reproduction of the waveform being sampled, the rate of sampling must be at least twice that of the highest frequency component. By this principle, the higher the sampling rate, the more accurate the digital representation.

However, increasing the accelerometer sampling rate increases the risk of excessive ‘noise’ in the reproduced signal, as well as increasing the power, processing and memory required.

In one study (Wang et al. (2015) “Movement, resting, and attack behaviors of wild pumas are revealed by tri-axial accelerometer measurements”), in which GPS and triaxial accelerometer collars were used to monitor behaviours of free-ranging pumas, the authors applied behaviour classification models to accelerometer data collected from wild pumas and identified mobile and non-mobile behaviours in captive animals with an accuracy rate greater than 96%. Accuracy remained above 95% even after down-sampling the accelerometer data to 16Hz. This study indicates that a degree of down-sampling may be acceptable before a significant detrimental impact on the behaviour classification is noticed.

However, decreasing the accelerometer sampling rate increases the risk, for example, that grazing behaviour is identified as ‘non-active’, although it is observed that the head moves during grazing - in a departure from resting/standing sleeping with head lowered, drinking with head lowered, eating from a bucket on the ground, or sniffing the ground.

The ability to separate active behaviour such as walk, trot and canter assists in the accuracy of determination of active movements of plant selection and plucking i.e. grazing.

It has been found that an accelerometer sampling rate of 8Hz frequency represents a lower limit for describing a horse ‘canter’ (although ponies can be observed with even higher movement frequencies than horses).

Of note, it has been found that data collected from the poll in trot at an accelerometer sampling rate of 12Hz (see Figure 14 ‘Sam trot’ and ‘Fred trot’ graphs) offers sufficient granularity to identify the full cyclical movement, without superfluous peaks and troughs within the trace that would require additional processing to remove. In addition, asymmetry was captured, which was completely unexpected at the 12Hz sample rate. This was surprising, as all other published empirical literature used much higher accelerometer frequencies; the ‘gait analysis’ equipment of the prior art is typically designed for only brief periods of data collection while a horse is being handled by a human.

Traditionally, evaluation of asymmetry in trot has been carried out ‘by eye’. In suspected forelimb lameness, a trained individual - not always a vet - will compare the head position and timing of head movements while each forelimb strikes the ground during trot Trot is the only symmetrical gait, yet very few, if any, equids would be perfectly symmetrical. The skill, then, is in determining what is ‘abnormal asymmetry’ compared to ‘normal’ for the individual horse. Asymmetry is also obvious to the human eye in animation or video footage, shot at 25-30 frames per second i.e. 25-30Hz.

It has been found that with an accelerometer sampling rate up to 25Hz frequency, the animal monitoring unit, in effect, provides an informed ‘eye’, as it enables the quantification of asymmetry for tracking of illness and injury but also the positive and negative impacts of training exercises, which are supposed to result in the horse being less prone to injury through strengthening the musculoskeletal system to support conformational weaknesses.

Above 25Hz, sensor data will start to detect unobservable (by the human eye) movement anomalies associated with specific illness and injury, for which specialist (e.g. vet or physiotherapist) understanding would be required to interpret the data for the individual horse, and environmental aspects need to be considered, such as slope of terrain, surface underfoot, straightness of travel. Thus, with an accelerometer sampling rate above 25Hz, data from cyclical movements will start to become ‘contaminated’ with superfluous data, which is unhelpful for behaviour classification, particularly in an animal monitor designed to mimic human observation.

The inventor has found that an accelerometer sampling rate in the range 8Hz to 25Hz inclusive, more particularly in the range 12 to 13Hz inclusive, provides an effective solution to the problem of balancing power requirements, data storage requirements, data processing requirements and data communication requirements (which involves consideration of the infrastructure for wireless data transmission in rural and remote areas), as well as economic viability.

The animal monitoring device of the present invention can describe gait quality in free-ranging (non-handled) equids without specialist (e.g. veterinary) human observation.

As part of classification, and quality of movement analysis, whether that is asymmetry of movement or irregular grazing behaviour - potentially indicating dental issues - a Fourier transform algorithm can be used for the analysis of sinusoidal waveforms, as it converts a signal from the temporal domain into a frequency spectrum (measured in Hz for a preselected N number of data points, at the 12Hz accelerometer sampling rate N = 12 per second) and indicates the magnitude (the square of the voltage output, V2) at each frequency.

With a fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm, there are diminishing returns for computational efficiency as N reduces. However, a discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) algorithm, which has been recommended where N < 32, is computationally more expensive.

With a sample frequency of 12Hz, a FFT based on 32 points (N = 32) represents a time window of 2.6s. A horse may break into a stride or two of walk in a period of trot, or adjust their bite rate while grazing to compensate for a shorter sward. Taking a 2.6s slot of time would be suitable for identifying horse behaviour, as this would allow for transitions into and out of behaviours while still using techniques to reduce spectral leakage.

Furthermore, frequency analysis of data recorded in a moving window of approximately 2.6s at 12Hz allows for ‘bite rate’ to be determined using accelerometery which, combined with accurately classified grazing time and other horse and pasture metrics allows for the calculation of pasture consumption and the nutritional contribution thereof in free-ranging group-housed equids.

Full use of all three axes in the summary statistics resulted in a relatively small range of effective statistics for behaviour classification purposes. It has been found that only six statistics: waveform length; pitch; raw x; rolling mean y; roll and ODBA (Overall Dynamic Body Acceleration) are required to classify ‘grazing’ at greater than 95% accuracy, precision and sensitivity using a simple, threshold-based, binary decision tree, including for muzzled ponies. The results show that a nominal 12Hz accelerometer sampling rate identifies and separates brief, high-intensive behaviours, including those in response to irritation. In addition, the need to use further sensors to achieve is overcome, advantageously reducing power, processing and data storage requirements.

In an embodiment, the monitoring unit 1101 is configured to store data over a period of time in a format allowing the actual time and duration of each occurrence of a behaviour definition to be determined. For example, the period of time may be 24 hours or 7 days.

Figure 12 illustrates example communication features of monitoring unit 501. In an embodiment, monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate acquired data to an external data storage resource. The external data storage resource may be any suitable type, and may be a portable data storage device 1201, such as a USB flash drive, internal memory or direct-attached storage of a user device 1202, or cloud-based storage 1203, which may be private, public or hybrid.

In an embodiment, monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate raw acquired data to an external data storage resource. In a specific embodiment, monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate raw acquired data from the triaxial accelerometer to an external data storage resource. In this way, data acquired from the triaxial accelerometer can be made available for analysis or processing in one or more ways.

As indicated above, in an embodiment, monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate with a user device 1202. Preferably, the monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate with a user device 1202 using a wireless connection. The wireless connection may be established in accordance with any suitable wireless communication protocol, such as Bluetooth ™. In an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 comprises a subscriber identification module (SIM) card allowing wireless communication through a cellular communication network. In an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate with a user device 1202 using a wired connection, which may also provide power.

The user device 1202 may be any suitable electronic device, desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer or a smartphone. The monitoring unit 501 is preferably configured to communication with different types of user device 1202.

In a preferred embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is configured for two-way communication with a user device 1202.

The monitoring unit 501 may be configured to transmit data to an external device via a wired and/or a wireless connection and also to receive data from an external device via a wired and/or a wireless connection.

The animal monitoring device 101 is usable within an animal monitoring system. Figure 13 illustrates features of an example graphical user interface of a software application of an animal monitoring system. By way of example, features of the software application will be described with reference to the application of monitoring a horse and with the software application being provided as a smartphone app. The software application may alternatively or additionally be provided as a website. The animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system allows a user to monitor an animal remotely via the software application.

In this Figure, a dashboard screen 1301 is shown, for a first horse. Within screen region indicated 1302, information relating to the first horse is shown. In this illustrated example, the name of the horse and the weight of the horse are indicated. The weight of the horse may be presented in any suitable unit of measurement. In this illustrated example, the weight of the horse is shown in kilograms (kg). It is to be appreciated that other details may be shown, for example height and age. Optionally, and in this example, a visual representation of the animal is also shown. In this illustrated example, a photograph of the horse is shown, but visual representation may alternatively be an avatar, for example.

Within screen region indicated 1303, a chart, in the form of a pie chart 1304, is shown that indicates the percentage of a period of time of monitoring by the animal monitoring device that different behaviour definitions have been identified. In an example, the period of time of monitoring is user-adjustable. The period of time may be user-selectable, and the user may be presented with the option to select one of a number of predetermined periods of time, for example 12 or 24 hours, or may be presented with the option to specify any available period of time within a pre-determined range, with the number of selectable available periods of time being determined for example by intervals of hours or part-hours (such as 30 minutes or 15 minutes).

In addition, within screen region indicated 1303, an additional chart, in the form of a bar chart 1305, is shown that also indicates the proportion of a period of time of monitoring by the animal monitoring device that different behaviour definitions have been identified.

It is to be appreciated that only a single chart or graph, a more than two charts or graphs, may be shown to present data to a user in a pictorial form.

Within screen region 1306, information relating to a specific behaviour definition is displayed. In this illustrated example, a percentage of gait asymmetry is presented. Alternatively, or additionally, information showing change of gait asymmetry over a monitored period of time may be shown. It is to be appreciated that different information relating to the same specific behaviour definition, information relating to a different behaviour definition, or one or more further different behaviour definitions, may be displayed.

As will be described in further detail, information provided by the animal monitoring system can be used to tailor aspects of animal husbandry.

In an example, the information displayed within screen region 1307 can be used to tailor a feeding program, in particular a feeding programme for a horse that is also provided with pasture on which the horse can graze. In this illustrated example, data derived from the animal monitoring device 101 is used to provide information, by day, indicating the period of time that the monitored horse was bucket feeding, the period of time that the monitored horse spent not eating, the estimated energy used by the monitored horse, the estimated energy eaten by the horse and a percentage indication the proportion of forage in the diet of the monitored horse. It is to be appreciated that the user may be provided with an indication of at least one of: estimated energy used (MJ), estimated energy eaten (MJ), estimated percent forage of diet. Importantly, the latter indication of percent forage of diet can be used to support a forage-first approach diet which is recommend by vets, horse behaviourists and equine nutritionists.

More specifically, readings from the previous 7-days indicating the amount of pasture intake by a horse, in combination with such data about the horse as age, height, weight, activity level (for example, whether the horse is in race or event training), can beneficially be used to determine the amount of a feed ration made available to the horse for a desired nutritional balance and energy intake for that horse. In addition to improved welfare of the horse, for example as a result of reduced stress and reduce risk of colic, this feature of the animal monitoring system may serve to advantageously reduce feed costs, reduce feed wastage or ensure that an appropriate amount of an appropriate type of food is being served or made available to the animal.

As indicated within screen region 1308, at least one alarm option may be made available to a user.

In an embodiment the monitoring unit 501 is configured to compare acquired data with stored data representative of a behaviour definition threshold, and to initiate a user-notification in response to identification of a behaviour definition threshold exceeded condition. In this illustrated example, a user is presented with the option to be provided with an alert in the event that excessive activity of a monitored animal is detected, in the event that a period of no movement is detected (indicating either a problem with the monitored animal or that the animal monitoring device has become separated from the monitored animal) and/or in the event that the monitored animal is experiencing irritation. It is to be appreciated that the user may be provided with a different number of alarm conditions to select from, and one or more different type of alarm conditions to select from. In the present example of the software application being executed on a smartphone, the user may opt to receive an SMS text message alert, an alert via a voice call with a recorded message or to receive an alert via a push notification service. The alert mode may be user-adjustable and the alert message may also be user-selectable and/or user-adjustable.

In an embodiment the user can adjust a behaviour definition threshold. This advantageously allows the user to tune the alert system at any time taking into account the known behaviour of the horse in view of such aspects as environment, health, animal management programmes and routines.

Preferably, the software application allows multiple profiles for different horses to be set-up, viewed and managed. This is particularly advantageous for users caring for multiple horses, with the different profiles allowing the user to set-up, update, track and monitor individual animal profiles, which in turn can assist the user with ongoing management of the animals, in particular when historical data relating to such areas as nutrition and workload is accessible.

It is to be appreciated that the animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system described herein provides the following functions: acquiring and providing data for use general interest viewing purposes, acquiring and providing data for analysis, acquiring and providing data for use in active management of an animal, acquiring data for use in raising an alarm to alert a user to a potential emergency. The animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system can be used as a health tracker, fitness tracker and alert system. A user may use the animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system, for example, to monitor growth, recovery from injury, impact of exercise and/or training regimes, fatigue profile, response to feeding regimes, response to supplements or medications, response to different types of riding equipment, reaction to different environments or reaction to different handlers or contact time.

The animal monitoring device advantageously functions autonomously enabling monitoring of an animal to be performed when the animal is not under active observation. A user may utilise the animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system to obtain information about a horse during periods when the horse is not typically under the active supervision of a person, for example, to determine how long a hay net lasts overnight or to determine how much quality sleep a monitored horse is getting. A user may also utilise the animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system to observe the symmetry of movement and/or behaviour of a horse when the horse is not under the influence or guidance of a handler or rider.

The animal monitoring device advantageously is also beneficial when an animal is being monitored in the presence of a user, for example to observe information relating to gait or other movement characteristics in real-time. This live’ data can be used, for example, during a practice riding, jumping or dressage schooling or training session to enable an instructor to provide instructions to the rider to seek to correct or improve the action of the rider of the horse as the training session progresses.

The software application may provide various general settings options. For example, the units of measurement displayed by the graphical user interface may be user-selectable, for example between metrical and imperial systems. The language in which information is displayed may also be user-selectable. Other features that may be user-selectable or user-adjustable include: type of information displayed, layout of displayed information, colours, sounds, date and time format.

The software application may provide various other useful information, features or options. For example, an indication of remaining battery level of the animal monitoring device may be viewable. The software application may allow a registered user to turn the animal monitoring device on or off and/or instruct the animal monitoring device to transfer data to data storage.

In an example, the animal monitoring system is provided as a user-subscription services which may be based on an annual contract rolling monthly contract subscription service model. The model may require payment of an upfront-fee and/or an annual account charge with other charges based on the number of animal monitoring devices and/or the number of users registered to the animal monitoring system and/or the level of functionality provided by the software application (for example, a basic level may provide a first number of features, an enhanced level may provide a second, greater number of features and a premium level may provide a third, even greater number of features). The device may be included in a contract also including a data allowance, or a user may purchase the device and pay for data usage separately. The subscription amount may be based on the level of functionality

In one use, a vet or animal behaviour expert for example can utilise the animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system to monitor, encourage, assist or ensure compliance with a specified feeding and/or exercise and/or handling and/or training programme. For example, an animal monitoring device associated with a software application accessible by a first person can be provided to a second person for use with an animal, so that the first person can monitor compliance with a programme for the animal whilst under the guardianship of the second person. In this way, deviation between reporting from the animal monitoring system and verbal or written reporting by the second person can be identified. Alternatively, a user can make data relating to an animal available to a vet, to discuss with the vet off-site. This can serve to reduce time spent and costs incurred through site vet visits.

In another specific example, a first person may be relying on a second person to exercise a horse at a certain time, in a certain area, for a certain period of time and to a certain level of exercise, and the first person can view that the animal has been exercised as expected using the animal monitoring system. The animal monitoring device and animal monitoring system can thus be used to build a relationship of trust between the first person and the second person, who may be affiliated with a livery yard. It is to be understood that this example could be extended to other areas of animal management, such as feeding and turning out an animal to pasture and bringing an animal into stabling.

As previously described, in an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 is configured to communicate raw acquired data, for example from the triaxial accelerometer, to an external data storage resource, for allowing data analysis or processing.

Figure 14 shows example accelerometer traces acquired from monitoring unit 501 of animal monitoring device 101. It is to be understood that in a specific embodiment, no animal clinical diagnoses are provided or indicated (for example colic, lameness, parturition onset) as a result of then behaviour definition data processing. Raw acquired data provided by the animal monitoring device 101 can be evaluated by a user and decisions taken by a user based on self-evaluation. It is to be appreciated also that recorded acquired data can be passed from one horse owner to a new horse owner upon sale of the horse, enabling the new owner to beneficially use the transferred data for the purpose of maintaining the well-being of the horse. Further, prior to sale of a horse, recorded acquired data for that horse can be viewed by and/or discussed with a potential new owner. Recorded data for a particular horse may also be used to obtain more favourable insurance premiums for that horse.

As indicated in Figure 15, in an embodiment, the monitoring unit 501 of animal monitoring device 101 is configured to receive sensor signals from an external sensor arrangement comprising one or more sensors, for example sensor 1501. The monitoring unit 501 of animal monitoring device 101 may be configured to receive sensor signals from an external sensor arrangement comprising one or more of: a temperature sensor (which may be located in or under a rug placed on the animal), a humidity sensor (which again may be located in or under a rug placed on the animal), a heart-rate monitor, a pressure sensor (which may be located in or under a saddle), a tension meter (which may be arranged to gauge rein tension), a gyroscope, a magnetometer, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), an electromyography sensor (which may be used to determine movements of specific muscles or muscle groups, and which may be located in sensitive areas of the body, for example around the eyes to detect blinking).

Thus, for example, a sensor of the external sensor arrangement from which sensor signals may be received by the monitoring unit 501 of animal monitoring device 101, may be arranged to sense a property of the horse or of rider action. However, the afore-mentioned list of sensors is not to be considered a definitive list Also, it is to be appreciated that the sensor arrangement of the monitoring unit 501 may also comprise one or more further sensors, although such factors as on-board data storage capacity, on-board power availability and weight will need to be taken into account if any additional sensors are to be incorporated into the monitoring unit 501 and/or the animal monitoring device 101.

It is thus to be appreciated that data acquired by the data processor from the sensor arrangement housed within the monitoring unit 501 may be processed in combination with other sensor or non-sensor data.

Although illustrative embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in detail herein, with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise embodiments and examples shown and that various changes and modifications can be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

Claims (24)

Claims
1. Apparatus for monitoring the behaviour of an equine animal, said apparatus comprising: a casing for location at the poll of the head of an equine animal to be monitored, the casing housing a monitoring unit, said monitoring unit comprising: a sensor arrangement, the sensor arrangement comprising: a triaxial accelerometer for detecting motion, and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver for detecting location; a data processor with access to data storage and for processing received sensor signals to acquire data processable to identify a behaviour definition; a communication interface; and a power source; wherein said data processor is configured to sample said triaxial accelerometer at a sampling rate in the range 8Hz to 25Hz inclusive.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim I, wherein said data processor is configured to sample said triaxial accelerometer at a sampling rate in the range 12Hz to 13Hz inclusive.
3. Apparatus as claimed in claim I or claim 2, wherein said casing comprises securing means for releasably securing said casing to one or more of: a fly fringe, a headgear strap, a head collar or halter, a bridle, a grazing muzzle, a device attachment element, the hair or fur of the animal.
4. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 3, wherein said behaviour definition is associated with one of: gait asymmetry standing alert standing relaxed standing laying down laying down position rolling tail swishing head shaking head scratching or rubbing head position grazing irregular grazing feeding bite-rate drinking walking trotting cantering galloping jumping kicking sudden halting inactivity a stereotypic behaviour cribbing weaving head-tossing allogrooming flehmen response
5. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 4, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to store raw acquired data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.
6. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 5, wherein: said data processor is configured to perform pre-processing of raw acquired data, and said monitoring unit is configured to store pre-processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.
7. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 6, wherein: said data processor is configured to perform processing of raw acquired data to identify acquired data representative of a behaviour definition, and said monitoring unit is configured to store processed data for subsequent communication to an external data storage resource.
8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to store processed data over a period of time in a format allowing the actual time and duration of each occurrence of a behaviour definition to be determined.
9. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 8, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to communicate acquired data to an external data storage resource.
10. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 9, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to communicate with a user device.
I I. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to communicate with a user device using a wireless connection.
12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10 or claim I I, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to communicate with a user device using a wired connection.
13. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims 10 to 12, wherein said user device is one of: a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a mobile telecommunications device.
14. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to compare acquired data with stored data representative of a behaviour definition threshold, and to initiate a user-notification in response to identification of a behaviour definition threshold exceeded condition.
15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein said behaviour definition threshold is user-adjustable.
16. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 15, wherein said monitoring unit is configured to receive sensor signals from an external sensor arrangement comprising one or more sensors.
17. Apparatus as claimed in claim 16, wherein said external sensor arrangement comprises at least one of: a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, a heart-rate sensor, a pressure sensor, a tension meter, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), an electromyography sensor.
18. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 17, wherein said data processor is configured to process acquired data to provide an indication of at least one of: Estimated energy used (MJ) Estimated energy eaten (MJ) Estimated percent forage of diet
19. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 18, wherein said monitoring unit comprises an illumination device.
20. Use of apparatus as claimed in any of claims I to 19 to monitor the behaviour of an equine animal.
21. Use as claimed in claim 20, wherein said equine animal is a horse.
22. A method of monitoring the behaviour of an animal, said method comprising the steps of: locating the apparatus of any of claims I to 19 at the poll of the head of an animal to be monitored, and processing acquired sensor data to identify a behaviour definition.
23. A method as claimed in claim 22, wherein said animal is an equine animal.
24. A method as claimed in claim 23, wherein said equine animal is a horse.
GB1706633.3A 2016-04-29 2017-04-26 Animal monitoring Pending GB2551430A (en)

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GBGB1607610.1A GB201607610D0 (en) 2016-04-29 2016-04-29 Animal monitoring

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GB2437250A (en) * 2006-04-18 2007-10-24 Iti Scotland Ltd Method and system for monitoring the condition of livestock
US20100302004A1 (en) * 2009-06-02 2010-12-02 Utah State University Device and Method for Remotely Monitoring Animal Behavior
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WO2011120529A1 (en) * 2010-03-31 2011-10-06 Københavns Universitet Model for classifying an activity of an animal
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