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The Tech Equestrian

Welcome to the new normal. Technology is everywhere and effects everyone and everything.  To keep up with the changes and information that impacts the equestrian world, I hope you will enjoy the stories, profiles and insights that this blog will feature. In addition, stay connected on social by joining my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages!

NIGHTWATCH®: Your Real-Time Horse Health Tracker

NIGHTWATCH®: Your Real-Time Horse Health Tracker

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As a horse owner, what is one of your top health concerns?

If you said, colic, you are not alone. Colic is the top medical cause of death in horses today.

But fortunately, after one tragic case, advanced warning and prevention is closer than you think.

NIGHTWATCH® Founder and CEO of Protequus, Jeffrey Schab, found that the tragic passing of one of his and his partner’s horses (“Snoop”) nearly five years ago served as a wakeup call. “Snoop died alone in his stall from a form of colic and if we had been able to detect it and get to him sooner, then he might be with us today,” said Schab. Leveraging his biomedical engineering roots from Tufts University along with his equestrian passion and professional expertise launching pharmaceutical drugs, Schab developed the concept of a wearable device (a smart halter™) that could alert caretakers of a horse in distress.    

Powerful Partnerships Advance the Concept
For cutting-edge products such as NIGHTWATCH, there is an extensive development process. To begin, Schab looked to several top resources to help bring his idea to life.  Over the years he and his team have worked with Rochester Institute of Technology, NRGXP (a technology company specializing in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem), Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, and Freedman Harness & Saddlery Company (a Toronto-based purveyor of fine leather tack and consumer products).  Each partner helped in developing the components for NIGHTWATCH, including novel sensors and algorithms, which are at the heart of the feedback loop that analyzes a horse’s vital signs and behaviors to detect distress and derive an EDI (Equine Distress Index®) score. He pointed out that “NIGHTWATCH is a tool that can provide early warning alerts to caretakers at the first sign of colic and other forms of equine distress, such as being cast and foaling.”

 The NIGHTWATCH dashboard displayed on a host of devices.

The NIGHTWATCH dashboard displayed on a host of devices.

The ultimate goal for NIGHTWATCH is to save horse’s lives. However, Schab and his engineers also plan to perform predictive Big Data analytics to revolutionize how equine insurance companies assess risk and underwrite policies, change how veterinarians think about telemedicine, and help researchers design better studies. “As a new entry into the equine world, we take our product very seriously and we hope it can serve as an early warning, life-saving device,” stressed Schab. “We now have 63 different beta sites across the US testing one or more of our devices,” he said.  The goal of our beta testing is to ensure, “that we introduce a value-add, turn-key simple solution,” Schab added.

First-Rate Features You Can Rely On
NIGHTWATCH did not spare any feature or overlook any detail.  The smart halter is made of hand stitched top-quality leather from sixth-generation leather makers at Freedman’s. The patented technology is enclosed in a water - and dust-resistant flexible enclosure that fits precisely inside of the crown of a breakaway halter or safety collar for a comfortable, safe fit. NIGHTWATCH is an IoT-enabled device that uses an AI/machine learning platform to understand what is normal and abnormal when it comes to your horses’ physiology (ie, vital signs, behaviors). Over time, this device actually learns and adapts to your horse, which is why it is termed a “smart halter.” To ensure you have access to horse’s data via your smart phone, tablet, or computer, NIGHTWATCH communicates across both cellular and WiFi networks.  “The benefit of having embedded cellular technology means NIGHTWATCH can alert you anywhere in the world regardless of whether your horse is at home in their stall or pasture, or even thousands of miles away at a show or in transit across the US and Canada. You are always connected to them,” said Schab.

 The led light display on the crown of the halter.

The led light display on the crown of the halter.

“There are other wearables on the market in Europe, but NIGHTWATCH is the only early warning system focused on health outcomes and designed to be used while horses are unsupervised and vulnerable. The other wearables are more like activity trackers whereby they aggregate data for users to interpret and are used as horses are being ridden or exercised. NIGHTWATCH does not require any interpretation of data; we developed this to have a set it and forget it mentality,” said Schab.  “It’s a product for all breeds and disciplines,” he explained.

Starting with the Sport Horse Market
Given their athletic demands and heavy travel schedules of sport and show horses, NIGHTWATCH is looking to target these markets at launch because of their increased risk for colic and other distress conditions. “We know that the amateur owner rider is looking for peace of mind when it comes to their horses’ health, and NIGHTWATCH can help provide that,” Schab said. NIGHTWATCH is also collecting data on broodmares for a foaling-specific algorithm, which will be well received by the racehorse community.

Product Goals
“My goal is to save horses’ lives and to make NIGHTWATCH a premium product you can trust –like Apple, Tesla, or Hermes – you know what you are getting,” explained Schab.  This revolutionary device is being recognized not only in the equestrian world, but also in the technology world as well.  It is currently one of the five finalists in the coveted wearable tech category for the Innovation Award at the 2018 SXSW Conference in Austin, TX, March 9-17, 2018. Hundreds of product entries from around the world were submitted and reviewed, and the winner in each category will be announced on March 13, 2018.

The Launch Date is Set!
On Thursday, April 26, NIGHTWATCH will officially launch! Starting the 26th, customers with horses domiciled in the US and Canada can order their NIGHTWATCH smart device online at www.nightwatch24.com, or those fortunate enough to be attending the Kentucky 3-Day Event in Lexington, KY can purchase their device onsite from Protequus, who is also a corporate sponsor and exhibitor at this event.

After nearly 5 years in the making, Schab is excited to share his device and offer customers a new sense of peace of mind when it comes to being one step ahead of the dangerous and unpredictable conditions of colic and other forms of equine distress. “I’m happy to have turned a tragedy into something that is full of hope and possibilities,” Schab said.

 NIGHTWATCH is also available in a safety collar.

NIGHTWATCH is also available in a safety collar.

Website: www.nightwatch24.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Horse.Monitor
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nightwatch_24
Twitter: www.twitter.com/NIGHTWATCH_24


Key Terms:
IoT: The Internet of things is the network of devices, vehicles, home appliances, etc. embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable these objects to connect and exchange data.

Algorithm: An algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. A computer program can be viewed as an elaborate algorithm.

Big Data: The term Big Data tends to refer to the use of advanced analytical and computational methods to extract value from extremely large data sets to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to behavior and interactions.

EDI®: The EDI is a proprietary 10-point scale, exclusive to NIGHTWATCH, that quantifies distress in a horse. The lower a horse’s EDI score, the happier and healthier they are.

 

 

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