Connecting, learning, enhancing and optimizing are the four cornerstones of a Waterloo-based and Algonquin-educated innovation.

Add those four words together and they spell CLEO, a “smart-collar” for pets.

The idea came from Peter Mankowski, a 1994 electrical engineering graduate.

The collar tracks an animal’s heartbeat, respiratory capacity, temperature, whether or not they are overheating, movement, activity level, safety, location and can even detect an early diagnosis of musculoskeletal conditions.

“I grew up with pets and always had a few at home,” said Mankowski. “I live a really busy life and I wanted to connect my pets to the vets and pet insurance without having to constantly be taking them to all these places.”

The collar works as a miniature veterinary hospital that the pet carries around at all times. Pet owners can connect the collar with their pet’s insurance company or the vet themselves to keep them up to date on how their animal is doing.

“There is nothing like this on the market today and I had to design it myself,” he said.

Before starting up CLEO Collar, the German immigrant attended Algonquin. He came to Canada looking for somewhere to study in mathematics and computer science hands-on.

“After a frustrating summer of visiting so many campuses, a friend of mine took me to Algonquin’s open house and it was love at first sight.”

“After a frustrating summer of visiting so many campuses, a friend of mine took me to Algonquin’s open house and it was love at first sight,” he said.

Mankowski built robots in the program and was on campus day and night.

“We were building flying drones before the word drones was even being used,” he said. “The door was always open, the labs were accessible and the professors were keen on providing advice.”

While still studying at the college, Mankowski had a co-op term at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

“It gave me a career-changing opportunity to design and build a small module for an artificial heart,” he said. “That was such a confidence boost and changed me as a person.”

Soon after, Mankowski graduated and joined start-ups West End System, Tundra Semiconductor and Vienna System.

“What an experience that was, to build three companies from the ground up,” he said.

Mankowski then joined RIM, the Blackberry-building technology heavy weight in 2010. He stuck around as a technical team lead until his research was left behind by RIM in June of this year and Mankowski was let go.

Mankowski didn’t take time to dwell on the loss of his job. He immediately jumped head-first into CLEO Collar.

The device has already been built, available for pre-order on the company’s website. It sells for $90 and is set to ship out in February or March of this year.