DHS needs rugged dog-wearable electronics to monitor health of trained canines

U.S. border-control authorities are trying to equip specially trained dogs with rugged wearable electronics to gather field intelligence and monitor the health of the canines when they work in harsh environments.

Aug 30th, 2016
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WASHINGTON - U.S. border-control authorities are trying to equip specially trained dogs with rugged wearable electronics to gather field intelligence and monitor the health of the canines when they work in harsh environments.

Officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington have issued a solicitation (HSHQDC-16-R-00093) for the K9 Wearable Technologies project, which seeks to develop dog-wearable, intelligence-gathering sensors and health-monitoring devices.

Border-patrol dogs have become the best tool available to detect and apprehend persons attempting entry to organize, incite, and carry out acts of terrorism, DHS officials say. Dogs also are useful in helping agents to detect and seize illegal drugs and other contraband at border crossings.

DHS experts want to monitor the health of the agency's dogs working in harsh conditions.

With about 1,400 canine teams, the Customs and Border Protection Canine Program is one of the largest and most diverse law enforcement canine programs in the country, officials say.

Wearable health-monitoring sensors would be important because border-patrol dogs must work quickly, under pressure, in varied climates. Wearable technologies to diagnose illness and measure performance have become commonplace for human wearers. Now DHS wants to do the same for dogs.

Developing dog-wearable electronics, however, is easier said than done. Maintaining sufficient skin contact on dogs may be difficult, for example, and wearable devices could be uncomfortable or hinder the animal's performance.

Vest-worn devices, moreover, may overheat dogs, and sometimes the animals may destroy the wearable devices by chewing. Digital data storage also may be necessary for those times when the dog moves out of range of the handler. Battery life, of course, is a big concern.

To overcome these challenges, DHS experts are asking industry for ideas and technologies to help monitor the health and welfare of dogs without degrade the animal's mobility or performance. Specifically, DHS experts are interested in dog-wearable electronics that can record and transmit canine vital signs; retrieve, store, and analyze vital sign data; and maintain and update canine sensor components.

For the program's first phase, DHS officials envision separate contracts worth $50,000 to $200,000 that last for three to six months. Successful prototypes could yield longer contracts worth $200,000 to $800,000 over periods as long as two years. Contracts would involve proofs of concept, working prototypes, and initial production models.

Companies interested should e-mail responses no later next year than 7 June 2017 to DHS-Silicon-Valley@hq.dhs.gov. For questions or concerns, contact the DHS's Aaron Ford by e-mail at Aaron.Ford@hq.dhs.gov, or by phone at Aaron.Ford@hq.dhs.gov.

More information is online at www.fbo.gov/spg/DHS/OCPO/DHS-OCPO/HSHQDC-16-R-00093/listing.html.

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