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With so many GPS pet trackers out there, is there room for yet more? The pet products industry is estimated to be worth $58.5 billion and there are more than 170 million pet dogs and cats in the U.S. alone, and as long as pets keep getting lost, companies will keep figuring out ways to help frantic owners find them.
One of them is Pawtrack, which hopes to differentiate by making a GPS tracking collar that is designed specifically for cats. The company is currently seeking £15,000 (about $25,000) on Kickstarter and with more than two-thirds funded so far, has a good chance of making its goal by its end date of September 6.
PawTrack’s collar design puts the GPS antenna on the back of the animal’s neck for more accurate readings and lets owners set how often it tracks. For example, it can be configured to track a cat for two days every 10 minutes, or be set for longer periods of time if owners go on vacation.
In addition to a GPS, Pawtrack also has internal wi-fi, which means that the collar can recognize when a cat is home and put itself to sleep to preserve energy. On the other hand, PawTrack’s “lost cat” mode will alert owners automatically once the cat is located.
“A big drawback of other products is that a cat could be under a bed sleeping or just moving outside. This wastes battery and, worst, still can give spurious GPS readings,” creator Jeremy Price told TechCrunch in an email. “You could be at work, panicking thinking that your cat has wandered across a road because the collar cannot get a good fix. With wifi you reliably know it is at home.”
PawTrack’s also collects data on a central server.
“A lot of trackers work on a simple SMS instruction, or just fire out an alert when the cat leaves a geo-fence boundary,” explains Price. “By going through a central server we can collect and analyze this data, and integrate it.” PawTrack plans to integrate data with social media next year, for owners who want to track their feline’s whereabouts on Twitter, for example, and also give access to aggregated data so humans can see how their cat’s activity compares with other pets. (Both of these features are optional).
Any cat owner knows how finicky cats can be. While PawTrack’s collar is designed to be difficult to kick off, it also has an elasticated safety buckle, an important feature so cats don’t accidentally strangle themselves if it gets caught on a tree branch, for instance.
Price says that PawTrack’s team has been running the web tracking platform and using the existing firmware for two years, and tracking cats around the world for the last 12 months. He’s confident that PawTrack will be available by its estimated ship date in November.
“We are only integrating a new GPS functionality and updating the battery management. Therefore, from a hardware, firmware, and software perspective, the hard work has been done. The new plastics have been designed and we are going to plastic tooling in September.”
For more information about PawTrack, visit its Kickstarter page.