Athletes deserve all the help we can give them, even if they are horses.
An academic team from the University of Bath has invented a new wearable device for racehorses that can improve their health and even save their lives by monitoring vital signs.
This Fitbit-like device, named EquiVi, can measure temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, heart and respiratory rate, and heart rate variability. Using these, EquiVi aims to help enhance horses’ performance, reduce their risk of injury during and outside of races, and improve their welfare by detecting early signs of common horse illnesses.
Electrical engineer Dr. Ben Metcalfe says that the data gathered from racehorses during events could even help improve the racing industry as a whole. He also said that the device could help detect minor injuries on horses before it could cause them to become lame.
“What we want to see is this technology in widespread adoption,” Metcalfe said. “As we develop more and more sensors we’re really interested in how all these parameters fit together – we look at modeling the health of the entire animal by measuring multiple vital signs at different times and in different ways.”
Deputy lieutenant of Somerset Lucy Nelson says that the project is really exciting. “It’s a fantastic tool, it is really revolutionary. We spend our lives trying to look at horses, trying to understand their language and making sure that the horse is thriving.”
“The happier they are, the better they work,” Nelson said. “There’s no point in trying to train unhappy horses, it just doesn’t work.” She also added, “It will be a real help for racehorse owners, for event horse owners, for vets – there are so many applications it can be used for.”
As of now, it’s only just a prototype, but the team is hoping to release the first version as soon as possible.