A Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Specialist hugs an agricultural detector beagle at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

A Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Specialist hugs an agricultural detector beagle at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Craig Ruttle/AP

How Canine 'Smart Collars' May Soon Help Secure America's Borders

'Smart wrist-watches' and wearable cameras are already used by U.S. border protection agents. Similar devices could soon be found on their 1,500 canine teams. By Frank Konkel

In the future, sensor-equipped collars could let your dog tell you all about its day.

If it sounds a little far-fetched, consider that the U.S. government is exploring the possibility of outfitting its border-protecting canines with futuristic collars that can, for example, translate a dog’s stress level through its bark and relay that data in real-time to a handler through a mobile device.

In an Oct. 6 speech in Washington, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Chief Technology Officer Wolf Tombe outlined how innovative technologies, including wearable devices, are gaining root in protecting the nation's borders. 

Already, some of CBP’s 58,000-person workforce use various smart wrist-watches, wearable cameras and clothing equipped with health and safety sensors, improving the effectiveness and safety for border agents in the field.

The successes of these wearable devices on human agents may soon lead to wearable devices for the four-legged members of CBP’s canine teams, which have long been considered CBP’s best tool in tracking potential terrorists or sniffing out controlled substances at U.S. borders. 

CBP’s canine program is the largest law enforcement canine program in the country, with some 1,500 teams, each with dogs capable of detecting some scents at an astounding four parts per trillion.

“Canines are still our best sensors,” Tombe said.

A dog's keen sense of smell draws them to potentially problematic situations much faster than their human counterparts. Today’s border-defending canines are outfitted with collars that transmit a GPS signal, Tombe said, so agents can’t lose the animals.

But Tombe said CBP is exploring the idea of collars that contain “stress-detection sensors” that could, for example, translate a dog’s bark to its mood via a signal an agent could view on a screen even if the animal was out of sight.

Such a collar could relay to handlers potentially vital information, including whether the dog was stressed or threatened. The collar could also potentially be fitted to send additional data via an audio or video stream.

While Tombe did not identify specific companies that produce these kinds of wearable devices for dogs, it appears there is a niche market for sensor-loaded dog collars. On its website, Israeli-based company Bio-Sense markets to the public a collar that “processes barks and can tell whether your dog is alarmed, senses danger or is just communicating with neighbors.”

According to the website, the collar will notify the owner of a threat via SMS message or a cellular phone call. Interestingly, it lists the Israeli Air Force among its customers.

CBP’s efforts in wearable devices and sensors echo the private sector’s increased interest in connected technologies, collectively dubbed the "Internet of Things." Wearable electronics alone are expected to generate more than $14 billion in 2014, according to independent market researchers IDTechEx. That market will balloon to $70 billion by 2024.

“The Internet of Things is huge for us; it holds great promise for us,” Tombe said. “People are becoming their own sensors.” 

So too, apparently, are humanity’s favorite four-legged friends.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.