It is really amazing how broad the spectrum of IoT applications is. IoT pet tracking is a good example of Internet of Things being employed to solve practical problems in the every-day life of humans and their best friends as reported by Cisco’s bog “The Network”.
The Austrian firm Tractive, is just one of the growing number of IoT start-ups aiming to help pet owners keep track of their furry friends. They have developed a GPS cat tracker that allows pet owners to find out about their pet’s travels and wandering habits.
Tractive, believes people are buying a tracking device because of the fear of losing a pet, a family member, and not being able to find it again. But a lot of pet owners also find it interesting to see the whereabouts of their pet during the day.
Another firm that developed of cat tracker is Pawtrack. Interestingly, Pawtrack believes that the need to keep tabs on your pet’s moves can be habit-forming.
How Pet Tracking works
Different kinds of tracking systems can be deployed for pet tracking but some are better than others.
Bluetooth is not suitable because it only works on a range of up to around 30 meters.
WiFi is an interesting choice but has drawbacks. With WiFi, you compare the signal strengths of nearby wireless networks and use that data to work out a precise location. The method can be very precise but relies on having wireless networks close by.
GPS is less precise but works almost any place outdoors. The disadvantage is that it consumes battery quickly.
A hybrid system seems to be the best solution. With a hybrid, GPS can be used to track the pet outdoors, but when indoors the tracker can switch to WiFi to save on battery use.
Additional functionality can be achieved with the use of accelerometer sensors that can give insights into the pet’s behavior by tracking daily activity and health trends.
How Pet Monitoring works
Simple monitoring capabilities seem to be enough to start with pet tracking.
A smartphone with an app that connects to the tracker and displays the position of the pet is the first step. Next step is to record the movements and display them on the map. Once movement is recorded, habits of the pet can be discovered.
With IoT and Cloud, more functionality can be added, by employing the well-known principles of management and monitoring. Good examples are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Threshold Crossing Alerts (TCAs). Imaging the distance of the pet being recorded as a KPI, and TCAs triggered and sent when the pet moves too further away from the designated base.
Integration with social media is another interesting function for IoT pet tracking, as pet owners tend to create communities.
The IoT Pet Tracking Market
“Most people consider their pets to be part of the family and are willing to spend significant amounts of money on pet products and accessories. The main remaining barrier to adoption of IoT pet tracking is low awareness among potential customers. Pet locator devices is a relatively new consumer product category, marketed by about a dozen small companies with limited marketing budgets.”
Other interesting facts are that about 32 percent of the households in Europe and 65 percent of the households in North America have at least one pet. That adds up to 310 million dogs and cats in Europe and North America.
Most pet owners want to keep track of their pets by adding them into the growing range of things that can be followed over the network. That means that the IoT pet tracking market has a lot of potential.
Photo courtesy: Fiona Campbell-Smith