Our pets bring substantial joy to our lives which is why we invest so much into their well-being. Collectively, we spend more and more on pets every year for the care, health, and entertainment of our animals because we not only love the little beasts, the market has so much to offer.
Highly-connective devices that are flooding our market with promises to make our lives easier have paved the way for innovation in pet care. Aligning with efforts that strive to bring automation to homes and intelligence to our appliances, pet tech has been piggybacking off the same ideas that parallel home IoT but for the fuzzy family members. So, let’s take a look at where both home IoT and pet tech are today then discuss what the future of technology looks like for our animals.
A look at the state of home IoT
In the last decade, the number of home IoT devices have exploded as mobile tech has rapidly evolved. This has led to the emergence of systems like the Samsung Family Hub that the company proudly boasts can “run all aspects directly from your fridge.” This system links with all of Samsung’s smart appliances allowing you to do things like preheat your oven remotely, check the inside of your refrigerator from your phone while away from home, and much more.
While some facets of these devices feel gimmicky, certain features like those mentioned above are incredibly useful. Sure, being able to look at recipes on your fridge door or tap into your calendar isn’t unbelievably useful but having cameras that can show the contents on the inside is a bit of a game-changer. Truly, it’s the evolution of camera components that are driving much of the change we observe in our tech.
As we’ve learned how to pack more into smaller spaces, we now computerize everything and typically attach a camera because, well, we can. Now that it’s incredibly inexpensive to do so, home security has benefited greatly, we lockdown our homes remotely and safely gain entry without a key, useful tech like drones are accessible for entertainment and industry, modern vehicles are equipped with valuable systems that interface with Android Auto and CarPlay as well as multiple cameras. The list goes on.
Taking a lesson from our smart fridges and all-seeing cars, pet tech is following suit by imitating and adapting unique variations of IoT but for our animals.
What pet tech looks like right now?
Following the commercialization of the technologies that are now part of our everyday lives, pet tech is on the same trajectory. The best pet tech available today aligns with principles that drive modern IoT development by keeping our pets safer, healthier, and more entertained.
For starters, pet GPS systems provide immense value for owners, especially when your furbaby is a Houdini reincarnate. If you’ve ever experienced the soul-crushing feeling of opening the door to see the dog has gone missing from the yard, you recognize the worth of a tool that can help you track them before they’re harmed or taken on by another family.
Pet cameras like the Furbo might seem like just a toy, but it truly provides utility beyond furnishing the ability to video chat with your beloved pet in the middle of the day. The Furbo can be used to assist with tasks like training by using the treat dispensing mechanisms to reward your dog for following commands. The device further has AI-based tools in it that can detect emergencies by recognizing sounds from fire or carbon monoxide detectors as well as breaking glass. For pets that suffer from separation anxiety and either misbehave or fall apart at the seams, users can connect with their pets to put them at ease.
Smart bowls and doors that use RFID tags and readers to control access prove their worth in a few scenarios. Smart doggy doors mean you don’t have to pause what you’re doing to let your pet outside when it needs to relieve itself – this is great when you have a dog that constantly wants to go out or an outdoor cat that comes and goes and it pleases. Smart bowls make it substantially easier for pet owners for controlling their animal’s diet. Many of these products can be programmed to only allow your pet to eat a predefined amount of food during a set period. Perhaps the most useful application for these high-tech feeders is when you have multiple pets and at least one has a special diet – unless your pets team up to pull a clever food heist, this technology often prevents animals from eating food they shouldn’t.
The various remote control toys on the market make it easy to interact with your pet while you’re away. Not only does this satiate the obsessive side that some of us have towards our animals, but it also ensures they get exercise.
What the future of pet tech will look like
Currently, there are already a few pet health apps on the marketplaces but they’re not quite as developed as the apps we use for personal health. Apps like VitusVet on Google Play provide features that allow you to track your pet’s health by storing information like vet records, contact your vet (if they use the app which is the same for other similar products), and schedule various appointments like grooming.
Down the road, it would be nice to see someone tackle the development of a more comprehensive app along the lines of Apple Health. While it might be overkill to develop a heart rate monitor for most animals, software tracks health metrics and activity would be a step in the right direction. With the help of machine learning (ML) driven analytics, deeper insights could be revealed about your pet’s well-being and alert owners when a change is a cause for concern. There’s a ton of opportunity here and the market is prime for more robust solutions.
Computer vision powered by AI could open the door for new opportunities in pet care. Right now, computer vision is being used in farming to monitor the movement and posture of pigs which has been shown to reflect their well-being which you can read more about by downloading this PDF. By expanding on this technology, we could apply similar techniques to profile our pets for deeper insights into their behavior and health. Similar to how we’re using computer vision in medical imaging to detect diseases that are hard to identify with the unaided human eye like osteoarthritis, more accessible technology of this flavor would allow vets to detect health conditions with more accuracy and at a lower price point than current methods.
Following suit with apps like Hello Sitter that we developed here at Blue Label Labs, similar on-demand apps for dog sitters and walkers such as Rover and Wag! are beginning to surface on digital marketplaces. Both of these apps are remarkable as is but a little extra innovation would push the envelope. One thing that comes to mind as a next step is a feature that’s similar to how the Ring system works with smart door locks – rather than taking your pet somewhere or having to physically meet a vetted sitter, the app could provide them access through the app.
We can help you build the next generation of pet tech
An appetite for the unconventional leads down the roads less traveled – as navigators of digital realms, we find new spaces and etch out an existence for the products we build. Right now, the market is ripe for next-generation software that will improve aspects of caring for our beloved critters. Feel free to reach out if you want us to breathe life into your idea for pet tech.
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