This is a story about how the Internet of Things is impacting one of the most important things in our lives: our pets.
Pet Health and Fitness
IoT has made a big impact in the health and fitness industry, particularly with smartwatches and activity trackers like the range offered by Fitbit (who shipped 4.8 million units in the first quarter of 2016). So much for us humans: what about our pets? Pet owners value their animal’s health, but unfortunately it’s not as easy as a cat telling you when they are under the weather. Dogs, for example, instinctively hide their pain for survival, so it can be particularly difficult to tell when your dog may be in need of help. This is why IoT providing the ability for owners and their pets to connect is so important.
New wearables, including cat and dog collars, can monitor important vitals and flag anything that seems out of the ordinary for your pets usual routine. Informing the pet owner of these changes will allow them to understand and address any health concerns. Beyond health alerts, pet-wearable IoT as part of our daily routines can help decide how much food your pet needs that day, depending on the amount of exercise they’ve had, whether they’ve had good quality rest, and even the calories they’ve burned that day.
Kitchen & Home
Connected devices in the home and kitchen have proven to be very popular with both experienced chefs and home cooks. Now we are seeing IoT move into the pet industry, it is also revolutionizing dinner time for our animals. In the past you may have worried about getting home on time or panicking about a late night in the office. Petnet is a smart feeder for dogs and cats that connects to your smartphone. Petnet and devices like it allow you to ensure your pet is fed on time, regardless of your schedule. Staying on the same theme of absentee pet-ownership, IoT now helps you to feel closer to your pets when you’re away. Wireless cameras such as the Petcube come with benefits for both the owner and animal, with the obvious security feature allowing you to check up on your pet, and a novel entertainment option (a laser pointer you can control remotely to play from afar).
Fun & Play
From games consoles to flying drones, technology is an integral part of having fun. We humans need fun and play to lead a happy life, and that is no different for animals. The tennis ball will most likely always be a part of any dog owner’s playtime kit. Now we see an influx of innovative techno-toys for pets. One of the most advanced gadgets is made for both fun and learning: the Cleverpet is a games hub for dogs of all breeds and personalities. It lets you set up puzzles for your pet, and give rewards. A companion app lets you see live updates, set a schedule for use, and track the amount your dog has eaten. Dogs aren’t the only pets to see a revolutionized play-time. Cats are also in on the action with the Frolicat, a selection of interactive toys. From an electronic mouse, to rotating circular lasers to keep your pet active while you’re away. Remote control pet toys are great for pets but they also have many benefits for owners, particularly for owners who may be less mobile, this is a great way to keep your pet entertained and well exercised.
It seems that nearly all traditional methods of feeding, exercise, and fun have been encroached on by these technology advancements. The booming pet business shows strong growth, in the US, from $48.35 billion in 2010 to $60.28 billion in 2015. With this increase in spending and the opportunity for investment, it will be interesting to see what other technologies make a move into the pet industry.
While these advancement in technology for owners and their pets is tremendous, it doesn’t address the core problem for modern-day pet-owners who work: not having the time to spend with your pets. Does a remotely operated gadget compensate for the animals missing out on quality human contact, and vice versa? Online retailer, Amazon, has a dog-friendly policy in their offices, showing it is possible to balance productivity and pet ownership. Rather than relying on these products daily, we should use them in conjunction with a normal, healthy daily routine, that includes lots of human interaction. After all, we all love our pets.