There are an estimated 51 million pets in the UK, with 44 per cent of households thought to be home to a furry friend. Any pet owner will tell you that the comfort and safety of man’s best friend is paramount and research shows that over a third of people actually prefer their pet to their partner – clearly demonstrating their importance in our lives.
So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the last few years of digital innovation have opened the door for a huge number of connected pet devices – creating a market worth $1.7 billion. It seems we’ve come a long way from the invention of Allflex’s dairy monitoring tags in 1955.
But what exactly is the point of the Internet of Pets?
In the UK alone, it’s thought that 40 per cent of dogs and 53 per cent of cats are overweight, which can lead to health problems, such as arthritis. Recent studies have even suggested that overweight dogs can have their lives shortened by up to two years. Smart collars aim to help owners keep their pet’s healthy by monitoring calorie intake and output, sleep and general fitness. The collars can also detect early signs of serious illnesses, such as cancer, in pets.
And it’s not just wearables. IoT feeders dispense the correct portion size of animal food, based on the pet’s age, weight and activity. Some of these feeders can even help pets get smarter, like the CleverPet, which dispenses treats to dogs when they respond correctly to given demands.
Apart from keeping pets well-fed, nothing is more important than ensuring their safety. Every day in the UK five dogs are reported missing, and though it is compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped, this is not helpful in the event that the pet is stolen.
Pet wearables offer owners peace of mind, by including GPS tracking for the animal – and this is not just limited to domestic pets. Rural farmers in Corsica have been using the IoT to monitor the location of their pigs, while scientists and developers are currently working on a tracking system for marine animals.
While it might be something that most of us do behind closed doors, evidence suggests that talking to your pets might actually be a sign of higher intelligence. Fortunately, communicating with pets is something the IoT can assist with.
This doesn’t quite mean that you’ll be able to understand Fluffy’s meows – not yet at least – but if you want to check in on your pet while you’re out of the house then the IoT can help. Connected cameras complete with microphones allow pet owners to catch up with their animal remotely, with some even enabling owners to dispense treats when away from home.
By 2025, it is predicted that there will be 75.44 billion connected devices – a fivefold increase within ten years – and when considering the applications just for pet care, it’s easy to imagine how this will be realised. Indeed, it is estimated that this market alone will be worth $2.712 billion in just three years’ time, making pet ownership easier, more secure and increasingly satisfying and providing a significant contribution to the global tech economy.
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