If the evidence of this year’s edition of the Barcelona-hosted Mobile World Congress is anything to go by, we can add ‘PetTech’ to the ever-growing list of traditional sectors being upgraded by the latest technology in the world. GPS trackers for pets with a penchant to go exploring on their own initiative have been around for a while now but there were a host of new PetTech gadgets on display in Barcelona this week.
Tech companies large and small appear to have cottoned onto the fact that if parents are prepared to spare little expense when it comes to their own human offspring, pet owners are often not far behind in their tendency to shower their furry friends with gifts. That’s especially the case if they can be convinced that an investment is well benefit a loved pet’s health and wellbeing.
Even GPS-based pet trackers are being upgraded to more impressive suites of functionality. Vodafone unveiled its latest tracker, the ‘V-Pet Tracker Pod 3’, which comes with the tagline “you’ll never have to feel apart from your cat or dog again”. The next gen tracker doesn’t just give you a location on your four-legged buddy. It also uses motion sensors which tell you exactly what they are up to, whether it be running, walking or resting. The user can even us the accompanying app to set up ‘safe zones’, with alerts sent if their beloved pet moves out of those. It’s even waterproof for owners of dogs who like to take a dip in the stream to cool off.
Other PetTech ‘wearables’ on show followed a similar trend to human health trackers like the Fitbit. Sure Petcare, a start-up founded by a Cambridge physicist, showcased their new £60 ‘Animo’ device. As well as tracking location, the Animo can tell if a dog is barking or even scratching something at home. And it adds a smart ‘health’ tracking layer by counting your pet’s calorie burn and sleep patterns.
And for pet owners prepared to go to even greater lengths, several companies presented systems including internet-connected cameras so they can see what their pets are up to when they are home alone. Some even included microphones and speakers for two-way communication at distance and treat dispensers that can be remotely activated via a smartphone.
If that weren’t enough, South Korean start-up PurrSong unveiled its smart IoT litter tray, the ‘LavvieBot’. For just £300 you can carefully track your moggy’s bowel and bladder movements, its weight and receive alerts around any potential health problems.
Some, or all, of these PetTech gadgets might sound extreme to the point of ridiculous to many observers. Honestly, I am the proud and happy owner of two dogs myself and would place myself in that category. But the numbers don’t lie. The ‘pet wearables’ market is forecast to hit a value of $8 billion by 2024, up from $1.85 billion in 2017.
That’s enough of an economic incentive to mean we can only imagine what kind of PetTech might be on display at next year’s Congress. Bionic ‘smart’ skin that lets your pet python regulate its own temperature anyone?