Why Golden Retrievers are Truly Golden—IoT and the Pet Industry

Posted by on Jul 6, 2017 5:00:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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People don’t just like their pets, they love them. The American pet market reached $66.75 billion in 2016 and shows no sign of slowing down. Research consistently shows people consider their pets part of the family, and often will spend more on their pets than they do on themselves. Countless industry stories bear this out. For example, the late actor Dick Van Patten—a fixture in Hollywood for decades—said no acting gig paid as well as his dog food company did. Controversial dog trainer Cesar Milan has gained global celebrity recognition equivalent to an A-list actor. And recently one innovative company has introduced a red carpet ‘lounge’ for pets waiting for airline flights, even horses.

What does this have to do with you? The pet marketplace is another incredible opportunity for IoT providers. Pet owners have disposable income, are tech savvy, and are looking for the next great thing with which to pamper their pooches (among other animals). The barriers to entry are minimal, and existing players already have proven the market to be highly lucrative. And just like discussing IoT for humans, pet IoT applications are seemingly limitless. The following are just a few ideas to hit the marketplace.

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The most obvious application of IoT for pets is tracking, primarily cats and dogs. Smart devices safely embedded in collars enable owners to easily geo-fence their pets. Younger pets can be trained to observe set boundaries, similar to how invisible fencing is used today. Devices also can trigger immediate SMS text alerts if a pet leaves a predefined home or yard area. When a dog, for example, does escape, it can be tracked in real time within inches of its position, thanks to micro-location GPS technology accessible from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

IoT enables advanced web cam surveillance for home and/or pet daycare deployments. Smart cameras can monitor the pet and detect if there are other live beings around. For example, if a dog walker is expected at 9 a.m. but a presence is detected at noon, the system would trigger an SMS alert that there may be an intruder. Devices also can be fine-tuned to send alerts if they detect preconfigured ‘unusual activity’, such as a dog chronically pacing, barking, or shaking. If an owner is going to be late, the system can be programmed to turn on lights, heat/air conditioning, radio/television, and any number of other devices to put the pet at ease during the wait. Even an outside door could be triggered to open and close/lock to let the pet into (and out of) a fenced yard.

Other IoT applications include smart feeders that automatically deliver the right amount of food at prescheduled times (or on command via a smartphone), health monitors via embedded collar devices, and smart litter boxes that can clean up after themselves and act as health monitors (via weight, amount of waste produced, or frequency of use). One untapped emerging market is smart pet toys that ‘intelligently’ interact with the pet, even dispensing food to encourage play. More advanced are toys with embedded cameras and audio that let owners remotely ‘play’ with the pet via a smartphone. IoT technology enables such toys to be extremely realistic from the animal’s perspective, encouraging repeated interaction.

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There are numerous other possibilities in the connected world, including wildlife applications, such as smart bird feeders that can discriminate between ‘thieving’ squirrels and the intended birds. But you can clearly see the potential. Giving pet owners peace of mind, in addition to other valuable benefits, is a growing marketplace that can rapidly enhance your bottom line.

To learn more on how Aeris can help with pet health and maintenance, contact us.

Topics: IoT, smart toys, pets, surveillance, health monitors, pet industry, smart feeders