Pet health startup is fighting dog dementia — using video games

LONDON — A pet health-tracking company is fighting dog dementia through the use of video games.

Joipaw say they have created an Apple Health-style tracker that can measure canine health. It includes an interactive whack-a-mole-style game that provides data on the pet’s state of mind.

Joipaw is the brainchild of Dersim Avdar and Marco Jenny, who say the aim is to alert owners if any abnormal behavior is detected. Dogs wear the tracker on their collar, and it sends data on their activities to the app. For example, the device tracks steps, time spent resting, playing, and walking.

They also play games on a console and receive treats when they’re successful. The tech gathers cognitive data in the background, which also appears in the app. Owners received an overview of their dog’s health on an app, and also early warnings in case anything out of the ordinary is detected by the hardware.

“Imagine being informed early if your dog is showing signs of joint issues or dog dementia, signs that a human will have a hard time noticing quickly, but that can be sent to your vet to improve diagnostics and treatments,” a spokesperson for Joipaw says in a statement provided by SWNS.

“Our company offers a holistic approach to preventative dog health care. We combine both cognitive and physical stimulation in the form of a dog-tailored console, a wearable and a software platform which allows you to track your dog’s health indicators.”

“Joipaw alerts you early if any abnormal behavior is detected, and our goal is to share this data with your vet to enable better diagnostics before potential complications.”

Joipaw dog health tracker
(Credit: Joipaw)

Doggie video games ‘turning daily exercise into a lifestyle’

“Imagine Apple Health, but for dogs. This is what Joipaw is at its core, a health tracking and stimulation offering to improve dogs’ lives,” Avdar tells SWNS. “We improve their physical and cognitive health by turning daily exercise into a lifestyle with our gaming console, wearable tracker and app.”

The Joipaw team adds that their approach is based on years of experience in both software and hardware mixed with decades of research on dog cognition and animal-computer interaction.

“Originally, my wife and I adopted a rescue in Hong Kong and were looking for a solution to keep him busy while we were away, because we knew he was just miserable with nothing to do while we worked full time,” Dersim explains. “Our friends had the same issue, and current solutions in the market haven’t changed fundamentally in the last decades.”

“We joked about buying him video games (we grew up as gamers) and I did some research to see if there was anything of the sort to buy,” Joipaw’s co-founder continues. “I didn’t find products, but I did find recent academic research that was trying to measure dogs’ cognitive evolution as they age, with a touchscreen based apparatus.”

“One line in a paper caught my attention, saying that multiple dogs kept playing by themselves even if they were left alone with the device and didn’t get any reward for doing so,” Dersim tells SWNS. “So they seemed to enjoy it and we could stimulate them like this? That was my aha moment.”

“We developed a quick prototype, tested it with friends, gathered larger amounts of feedback with online surveys, developed a second prototype and tested it, and now we’ve had dog owners booking to buy the product on our website.”

“Beyond the entertainment side, our goal with this venture is to help dogs live healthier lives through enrichment and bonding with their owners, and we also want to show the world how intelligent dogs are, because we humans tend to empathize and take better care of others when we realize they’re closer to us than we think,” the co-founder concludes.

Joipaw is now testing their system with multiple dogs to get feedback on the current version of the device.

“Your dog can play stimulating video games tailored to their needs, and you can see how well it’s doing – maybe even compete with your neighbor’s dog,” the company says.

South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.

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