Consumer tracking devices target different segments including children, the elderly, and pets. Though they boast a variety of advantages for children and the elderly, the question regarding pet monitoring is significant, with the rise of both pet ownership and thefts growing in unison.
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Pet Tracking: What are the Benefits?
The GPS capabilities of pet tracking devices do offer advantages for pet owners that have pets who are a bolt risk, due to the ease of locating the pet once it has fled. There are additional benefits to the different type of pet trackers available to market as they do not solely focus on tracking the location of pets, but also health parameters such as activity levels and heart rate data. The advantage of these trackable parameters is that veterinarians are able to utilize this information not only for routine checkup appointments, but also for more complex illnesses or emergencies.
Pulling Back on the Lead: What are the Problems?
While the location and health tracking capabilities are beneficial, the marketing claims of trackers being a helping aid for pet thefts is a significant cause for the lack of overall success for these consumer tracking devices.
One of the most used marketing points for these devices is focusing on the ability to see the location of a pet in the unfortunate case that they have been stolen. The largest issue is with this marketing point, however, is upon the basis of the device itself. One of the inhibiting factors of the growth of these devices is based on the battery life of the hardware. For this reason, the devices have to be removable to be able to charge them. In the case of pet theft, an increasingly common problem in the UK which has surged by more than 100% since the start of the pandemic, the devices would be easily removable for the criminals, and therefore rendering the tracking device less beneficial.
How Can the Devices Become Better Suited for Their Goals?
There are many recommendations that can be made that could offer a more foolproof business model for the pet tracking market: longer lasting batteries, a design to enable them to remain permanently on the pet or enabling a specific lock element for the removal of the collars. One of the significant issues for the use of these collars in case a pet is stolen is that they will be the first thing other than their actual collars with name tags to be removed. For this reason, the business model offering protection and peace of mind for pet owners is incomplete, as the one thing that will be to help keep their pets visible in the worst-case scenario are easily detachable, meaning it is likely that pet owners would only see the location of a bin or a woodland, not their beloved pets.
For the benefit of battery power, opting for a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network for a connectivity option will increase the battery life of these devices, which is required with a market average of seven days for the battery life. Having a longer life battery will give the benefit of not having to potentially remove the device from the pet, meaning that designs can improve to prevent the ease of removal. If longer battery life is implemented, then pet tracker providers can adapt their business models to help improve the service for their end customers. Many offer a service plan, with a one-off fee for the device along with a subscription for the usage of the device. This could be adapted so that it is similar to a mobile phone plan for consumers—at a specific time point there can be a renewal fee, instead of upgrading for a new model per say, but for a new device due to the battery needing to be refreshed.
If these technological constraints are addressed, there may be more of an open market for these specific types of consumer tracking devices. Disabling that ability to easily remove the trackers will be likely to increase popularity, as thieves will have to try a lot harder to remove the devices, meaning that pet owners will have more time to locate their furry friends.