Swarm intelligence has made some impressive predictions on horse racing this season, by correctly placing the top four Kentucky Derby finishers last month. This might affect bookies but what about horses? If an “artificial” intelligence can benefit betting, can it help keep a horse healthy and performing well? A French startup called Arionea thinks so. The company is betting big that artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will revolutionize the racetrack — with the help of a new device dubbed the Equimetre.
The iPhone-sized sensor is designed to fit snuggly into the strap that holds the horse’s saddle on, and report statistics to an app powered by a machine learning algorithm. The device perpetually monitors the horse’s heart rate and temperature. As it runs, the Equimetre records the horses acceleration, speed, and length of stride. After exercise, as the horse cools down and rests, the Equimetre tracks the animal’s rate of recovery.
All the while, the algorithm compares this data with details about weather, humidity, and the type of ground under the horse’s hooves. The goal is to offer a comprehensive and quantitative overview of a race horse’s health and performance, co-founder Valentin Rapin explained to Digital Trends.
Physiological monitoring devices aren’t new for horses, but Rapin insists the Equimetre’s algorithm will set it far apart from competitors. Rather than expressing the horse’s statistics in graphs and charts that the trainer has to interpret, the app will put this information into context. “The algorithm will actually tell the trainer what this information means,” he said. It’s designed to deliver horse-by-hose data on a day-by-day basis.
Still, the Equimetre isn’t meant to replace trainers when it’s released early next year. “Nothing can replace their eye and intuition,” Rapin said. Rather, it’s intended to give the trainer information he/she usually wouldn’t have access to.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of the Equimetre – for horses, trainers, and animal rights activists alike – is its ability to predict and prevent injury. Rapin suggests that, if the algorithm recognizes an unnatural change in the horse’s gait, the algorithm can warn trainers to prevent overtraining before the horse hurts itself.