This modern lifestyle of gadgets and interconnectivity promises a plethora of information for any discerning individual to track, perhaps obsessively, the details of their lives. Wearables, no longer simple novelty, have become a common sight on the bodies of people looking to track their exercise habits, many setting daily goals to abide by. While the world of wearables goes far beyond this, exercise trackers such as the FitBit are far and beyond the most popular, and now, pets are able to get in on the action.
Yes, the pet gadget industry has become gradually more and more prominent as animal lovers decide to expand their technological portfolio to cater to their pets. This isn’t unprecedented at all; microchips have allowed owners to track dogs and cats for some time, and the advent of social media saw a slew of pages ostensibly run by a particularly cute animal, owners dressing them for holidays to the delight or exasperation of online audiences.
Smart collars are the most common and the most obvious pet-based technology. They also help solve the issue of lost pets; as long as an animal is wearing the proper collar, owners can track them via GPS with a tap on a smartphone. The functionality of this system includes geological boundaries that users can set, receiving notifications if their pets breach these lines and wander off. This has the added benefit of tracking pet activity levels for the owner’s benefit, though it’s hard to say how many will be holding their own dogs to strict fitness regimes.
However, this may change in the near future. Some pet apps, such as FitBark, include a peripheral in the form of a sensor on a dog’s collar, and allows owners to see how they compare to other dogs of the same breed. FitBark tracks weekly activity and helps encourage owners to give their pets the exercise that they need to stay happy and healthy.
And, when owners are away, dogs and cats can still play. Other pet-based gadgets allow animals to stay entertained when home by themselves, and even provide connectivity for their owners to check up on them and interact remotely. Devices such as the Petzi camera are the forefront of canine (and feline) communications, including functionality for taking pictures, a speaker system for talking to pets, and an integrated treat dispenser. Some even take it a step further; EasyPlay offers all of the previous and a remotely controlled ball for pet interaction.
Other gadgets account for every facet of pet care—from automatic feeders to fetch machines to toys that dispense treats at regular intervals, the Internet of Things is now resplendent with options to entertain your pet from a distance.
How much of it is really necessary, though? The novelty is delightful, and there’s no arguing that services such as pet monitoring could prove to be a staple for any pet owner. That said, it’s hard to say that, even in the age of IoT, that anyone but the most dedicated individuals would want or need constant connectivity with their pets.
One can argue that pet health is becoming more and more important. After all, if pet owners are willing to pay for vet care, then an app or two to ensure that pets are getting exercise doesn’t seem out of line at all. Plus, pets are increasingly thought of as part of a family, and the death of a pet can be a significant loss. Busy schedules can also discourage pet owners from adopting, something that is mitigated by the remote devices on the market.
So, with pet technology as an inexorably growing industry, one can’t help but wonder what options will come next. A robotic mouse for cats to chase? A way for pets to call their owners and check up on them? Regardless, like other industries, we are in a trial period that will swiftly reveal which gadgets are novelty and which will become staples for the pets in our lives.