TOKYO - Ever wonder what your pet Fido or feline is really thinking when you stroke or walk them?
A Japanese company has developed a small device that, when attached to the necks of dogs and cats, it says can analyse more than 40 kinds of movements to discern their emotions.
Owners can tell if their pets are happy, relaxed, want to play or are annoyed by using a smartphone application that links to the device, according to maker Anicall.
"We have more pets than kids in Japan," Takuya Fuma, a manager in the company's development unit, said Thursday at the Wearable Expo in Tokyo.
"We see a big market in the pet industry," he added. "People spend money on pets."
The number of pet cats and dogs in the country in 2014 totalled 20 million, according to Japan Pet Food Association, higher than the nation's 16.2 million children under 15.
Anicall's gizmo is different from rivals as it can be used on cats as well as dogs, which Fuma said should allow the company to cash in on the soaring popularity of felines in Japan.
Currently, the device only works when owners are near their pets with their smartphones, but Fuma said the company hopes to make it possible to monitor their emotions remotely in the future by using another device to send signals over long distances.
For now, he still thinks they offer a greater insight into pet's emotions than the naked eye.
"It's possible you think pets are relaxed, but actually they aren't," Fuma said.
The device is scheduled to hit the market around April at price of 9,000 yen ($75).
More than 200 companies from Japan, South Korea, the United States and elsewhere are taking part in the three-day Wearable Expo, which kicked off Wednesday, to showcase their latest technologies.