Jann Arden is a much celebrated multi-platinum, award winning artist catapulted onto the Canadian music scene in 1993 with the release of her debut album “Time For Mercy” featuring the hit single, I Would Die For You. A year later with “Living Under June”, she would have her career break out hit Insensitive that would solidify her position in the music world.
Arden has released 12 albums with 19 top ten singles. Her most recent recording, “Everything Almost” was released in 2014. With Grammy Award winning producer Bob Rock behind the console, the 11-track disc is considered to be amongst Jann’s finest work – progressive, yet retaining the magic that is distinctly Jann. In her career to date she has received 8 Juno Awards including Female Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year and in 1997 she hosted the Awards ceremony. Arden is also the recipient of 10 SOCAN Awards, 4 Western Canadian Music Awards, a Much Music Video Award, 3 Prairie Music Awards and an Alberta Recording Industry Association Award.
And now, she can add inventor to her many list of accomplishments. She is the co-creator of The Arden Collar and Smartband, a new voice of your loved one in a world filled with noise. Their product isn’t just about technology or the future, it’s about one of the most important family members in your life- your pet, your child, your elderly parent, or your child with autism. Imagine for a moment your loved one is lost, wandering, and alone without the ability to find their way home or able to speak. They are scared, hungry, and exposed to the harsh elements. You would give anything to help your family find their way home. That path home will be the Arden Collar and the Arden Smartband.
Eric: The Arden Collar is a device that contains a GPS tracking system that shares data with your smartphone? Correct?
Jann: Yeah, I mean, in very simple terms, the dog is your destination, your dog or your cat, or your parent with dementia, or your 16-year-old child that you want to keep track of. But basically we’re really thinking about losing our animals, which 32,000 people in Calgary alone lose every year.
Eric: Why do you think that number is so high?
Jann: You know, even a fireworks show can send hundreds of dogs running to the hills. Camping trips, people working, leaving their gates open and things like that. But your dog is the destination and your smartphone is your GPS device that you have in your car, your satellite navigation. With the collar, though, we realize that obviously it needs to be in water resistant, silicon casing. It can’t just be GPS which is why we have cellular technology as well. Even when you’re thinking of Sirius satellite, you drive your car into a shopping mall, big concrete shopping mall, and all of a sudden the signal drops out. Well, the reason that we’ve done the cellular part of this, is that people have this secondary chance to find their dog if it’s in a cul-de-sac or in a building, or hiding underneath a house, things like that. So, anyway, that’s the basic gist of this: It’s nothing that we have invented ourselves, we were just sitting there going, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this?’
Eric: How did you come up with this? Did something happen in your life?
Jann: That’s a great question, Eric, and you know, I was doing exactly that. I was sitting with my friend and because I do travel with music – I still travel between 200 and 250 days a year, in fact I’ll be traveling more than that this upcoming 2015 – I was saying to my friend Derek Sheldon, who really is the software genius behind all of this stuff, I was saying to him, ‘Oh my gosh, I need a damn travel app!’ and he goes, ‘Isn’t there a travel app?’ I said ‘No!’ I mean, you know, I don’t know if anyone remembers the debacle I had on Via Rail – Believe it or not, I was very naive, my work colleague booked me on the train just to give me a little change of scenery, and I really didn’t know I couldn’t take the dog on there. So, in hindsight, the travel app – we’re talking back and forth, wouldn’t it be great to get an app, know where you’re taking your dog, what hotels are friendly, what cafes, what restaurants, what planes, how to book them on, what weight they’re supposed to be, how to find a vet in any city that you’re in..Like, a one stop app, and then my friend Derek said to me, ‘Have you ever lost your dog?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’ve actually lost her in the venue, where she gets out of my dressing room and she’s literally 400 yards down a hallway, but I don’t know that.” And he goes, “You should just put a GPS on her.”
Eric: And you probably laughed when you said that.
Jann: I’m like, you’re really hilarious. He goes “Jann, I could make you one.” And then I’m like, “How!?” He said “Well, all the chips and everything out there, what do you think people use?” He says it’s already invented. He said, “It’s not like I’m gonna sit there and weld it in my basement, it’s just putting it in a collar.” So then a couple weeks later, I wrote him back and I said, “Derek, you know what, I’m really interested in this.” And I kind of gave him some stats on lost pets, people that even in the last couple of weeks – a lot of us read about a dog that got out of the kennel underneath of an American flight, and he chewed his way out of his career, obviously took off across the tarmac, was traumatized, and the guy couldn’t find his dog. And I’m just thinking, with an Arden collar, it doesn’t matter if the guy’s in a different city, he could activate this app, and literally see, ‘My dog is in Boston, he’s on 5th street and 7th avenue. And there’s really good battery life available now, because our collars, they’re not a constant signal, because we didn’t feel like that would really give people the time that they needed to find their dogs, especially if something like that does happen. Every 5 minutes, it sends up to the satellite, so you just buy yourself this 6 or 7 day period, where if you really lost your dog on a camping trip, you have a fighting chance, it’s not just a few hours.
Another thing, the vet we’re working with her name is Judith Sampson French and she’s just amazing. She does so much philanthropic work and so much work with disenfranchised and marginalized animals on reservations. God, she’s doing the work. But she said most of the pets, the dogs especially, that come into her clinic that have been injured are lost. They’ve been hit by cars, in a fight with another animal and they’ve got – she said the sooner you can find your animal the better it’s going to be for your pet. So, with our collar one of the things Derek said we have to do is there should be light on this thing. You basically hit the strobe function on the collar when you realize the dog is lost or even if you don’t realize it. You’re in an off leash park and you want to be able to see your dog. LED lights, these things are so bright and they don’t bother the dog because he can’t see them but you can really see the from a mile away. They flash in a circular motion and it draws attention. There’s not a car in the world that wouldn’t see these lights. I’d wear one of these on both my wrists if I was running at night, I really would.
Eric: Are you going to sell it at shows?
Jann: You know, I’ve never thought of that. Cross-collateralization is always a good thing, isn’t it?
Eric: Absolutely, you have developed such a fan base where they love you and they trust you and it’s like bringing a charitable organization with you on the road or a food bank that people would be more apt to donate to something if they know that the artist gets behind it. I think this is one of those situations where for the good of the people and for the good of their pets, that they trust you on this.
Jann: I really appreciate that. This really is something that’s about people having happy endings just otherwise to otherwise really traumatic issues. These are our family members, these aren’t dogs are cats, these are people’s families. Whatever I can do – I’m very selfish about this area. This is a very selfish endeavor for me because I don’t want to lose my dog, she’s only 5 lbs and I want to have a fighting chance to find her, even if she’s just gone a block down, even if it’s 200 yards. For people who fly with their animals for people that are avid campers. Anyone that’s ever lost their dog bolting after a fireworks show, which I did as a kid. We lost our dog for three days and of course they didn’t have anything, we didn’t have smart phones in the 70s but yeah, we found our dog three days later just looking so bedraggled and how cool would it have been to pick up a phone, hit an app and know that his light is flashing and somebody could see him and that we can literally get in the car and go pick him up in ten minutes.