Author: aimee

Smart Foal is getting Smarter!

Great news!

After years of Smart Foal being used by hundreds of people across multiple countries we have incorporated feedback and feature requests to bring you:

Smart Foal HOME

On top of the current Smart Foal features:

  • Up to 600m range (depending on terrain, hills, buildings)
  • Real time webapp
  • Long battery life
  • Water proof/stomp proof

Smart Foal HOME includes:

  • Improved lying down detection. We have moved the extra sensitive detection method in the webapp into the HOME base so now the hardware alarm is just as sensitive.
  • Offline mare detection.  If your mare goes out of range, or breaks out of her paddock, the hardware alarm will “chirp” and let you know.
  • Automatic override if your internet goes down. Have the HOME base set to Auto so that you normally get alarms through the app or on your phone, but if your internet goes down the hardware alarm can detect that and turn itself on – so if your mare lies down the alarm will still activate.
  • MUTE button! Our mute button is not like any other sleep button you have seen before. Our Mute button ONLY silences the alarm for the one mare who activated it in the first place. What does this mean for you? Well if one mare lies down to have a big sleep and you hit mute the alarm will stop sounding for 15 minutes. She can get up, down and fidget as much as she wants, the alarm will stay off; BUT if another mare lies down and goes into labour the alarm will still activate!

We have built in as much redundancy as possible to make sure your mare can’t sneak the foal out. This not only makes Smart Foal the most sensitive halter mounted alarm on the market, it means that anyone without internet, or anyone who just wants the screaming alarm on it’s own, can take advantages of our advances.

We are still putting the finishing touches on this version. It will be released to the public in the next month or two.

How we got started

How did Smart Foal get started?

Well it all started years ago when my mum was foaling down her mares. She would sit up at night until she was too tired to continue and then the mares were on their own. After loosing a few foals she decided it was time for a change.

She looked into the current foaling alarms available and couldn’t justify the price. So she asked me to build her one. “No problem” I said… I built it – and it worked, kinda. Somehow the base unit with the alarm in it created a feedback loop with the float (which was being used to provide shade for the mares) and the alarm wouldn’t stop going off. So mum got annoyed and turned it off.

And that was the end of that.

Flash forward a few years and mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the motivation I needed to actually do it right.

But what is right? Is another screeching box the way forward? Should I try to do something different?

While developing a very early prototype I had this “great” idea. Since I was powering the box off my computer – why not allow data to be displayed on the screen, as well as provide the traditional alarm? The user just needs a computer and to install some software.

I was so excited. I thought I had the reinvented the wheel.
I called mum and told her all about this great new idea.

Her response: “NO!”

“No computers! We are just simple, normal, technology challenged people. ”

“NO COMPUTERS!”.

OOOkay.

A lot of business advisers will tell you that getting an opinion on a business idea from a family member is great, but take it with a grain of salt. They want to support you and encourage you, so they might not be as honest as they should.

Uh-huh.
I didn’t get any of that 🤷‍😂🤣

So what now? Computers/programs/cables/updating software are all off the table.

Without a clear way forward, I just focused on collecting data.

While gathering data I had a real time display on my computer so I could match raw data to actual mare movements. After several hours I was able to tell what the mare was doing at any point in time. It was very handy.

While watching TV with my laptop beside me, my mum would chirp: “What’s she doing now?”.

“Eating”.

“OOh.” “What’s she doing nooow?”.

“Still eating, Mum”.

“And now?”

“Just standing there, dozing”.

This went on all night until mum finally said “Oh, you know, even that’s really handy. Can you put that on my computer?”.

*Sigh*  🤦‍♀️

The brutally honest feedback I received initially, resulted in the creation of a web app – rather than installing software locally. This means all maintenance and compatibility is taken care of by us, not the user. It also means that all the data and alarms are available anywhere in the world! A very lucky side effect.

And we couldn’t imagine it any other way.

💖

May the crazy eyes of a thousand mares not deter you from your path.

How does Smart Foal compare to other alarms?

Traditional foal alarms

These alarms detect lying down and set off a siren in a receiving unit.

Smart Foal contains a siren in the WiFi base station that will go off when the mare lies down. So in that respect, it contains the same functionality.

On top of that, Smart Foal has an app that allows you to monitor your mare yourself. You can see if she is restless or agitated, pacing or lying down. The algorithms processing the data let you know if she is OK or if you should get ready for your new baby. You can see the remaining battery life and enable the alarms you want.

Having an app also enables Smart Foal to roll out improvements continuously. There is no need for different hardware or an upgrade, we can upload new code, features or updates remotely for everyone to enjoy. Our ultimate goal is to add a “predictivity” meter that gives you at least an hour notice before the foal is born.

Phone App

A phone app for foaling is essentially the same thing as the traditional foal alarm except it uses a phone as the sensor/transmitter and you receive the notifications on another phone. Again Smart Foal contains the same functionality and the big difference is the Smart Foal App. No other alarm conducts pattern recognition on the data or shows you your mares distress/activity level.
Using a phone as the sensor/transmitter means the battery life is a maximum of a few days and it relies on your foaling yards having 3G coverage or direct WiFi coverage.

Stitched in alarms

There are some alarms that require the transmitter and magnets to be sewn into the mare’s vulva. When the foal’s feet protrude the magnets separate and set off the alarm. These are great for reducing false alarms but are costly to have a veterinarian sew them in place.

Smart Foal attaches to the halter and doesn’t need to be sewn anywhere. As such Smart Foal doesn’t incur veterinary fees to be turned on.

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