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Why Pet Care is the "killer app" for IoT

Fabianne Rico, @DoctorRico

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Internet of Things is one of next big things in tech. People are excited about IoT at scale because it can help bring about the ideal future as it was portrayed in movies. However, people are hesitant to invest in smart devices. And I don't blame them given there have been some busts in the Internet of Things like the shutdown of Revolv's smart home hub. Many companies are on the search for the "killer app" for IoT that will dramatically increase consumer adoption.

Some assert that security is the killer app while others argue it's fitness. While these are valid use cases for the Internet of Things, others might not be so quick to trust internet-connected devices to keep them safe, or might be turned away by the lack of unique applications for fitness beyond wearables, respectively.

IoT devices for security are not the most reliable in the world. What makes it difficult to trust them for our safety is that Wi-Fi is not always stable. In addition, electricity itself is not immune to blackouts, no matter how much money you've spent on your device. There are too many things going wrong with IoT security to put that trust in just yet.

Unless you're Lebron James and you could afford state-of-the-art fitness technology, IoT for fitness is no more than using a wearable and tracking your steps and heart rate. Some applications let you track specific activities, but fitness does not have enough potential as a killer app for Internet of Things, unless 75% of Americans suddenly get up and decide to exercise and purchase these devices.

automatic pet feeder

However, those same skeptics might be able to trust IoT devices for other tasks: like caring for their pet.

Pet care IoT devices are useful and fun at the same time. We already leave our pets at home with no knowledge of what they're doing, so there is no specific reliance consumers need to have on the device. Pet care devices fill these otherwise unutilized gaps with devices to help feed, track, and entertain your furry friends while you're away.

Something as important as feeding your pet cannot fully rely on an internet connection for its main function yet. Petnet lets pet owners schedule feeding times and doesn't need an internet connection all the time once you schedule feedings. This device utilizes the internet for other features, like pet notifications of how much they ate, or to change feeding times and portion sizes on the fly.

One of the main pain points of owning a pet is the emotional distress whenever they go missing. You can put up as many MISSING DOG posters as you want, but there's no guarantee they'll make it home safe. Whistle tracks your pet's location and activity from anywhere in the country.

In addition, the pet tracker can monitor your pet's health trends and is durable enough to last through whatever damage the family dog will inevitably attempt on it (it's waterproof too!). It alerts you immediately if they're outside of home range so it provides peace of mind while you're away at the office and not thinking about the possibility of coming home and the dog is missing.

Few things are as heartbreaking as the face your pet makes when you leave to go to work every morning. They don't know when you're coming back, if you're coming back at all. So many hours gone by without seeing your pet. You have no idea what they're up to.

Another way IoT pet devices can make the best of non-utilized time is remote video chatting with your pet. Petcube is an interactive pet cam that lets you play with your pets and reward them with treats. IoT for pets is especially useful for pet-owners who travel a lot and feel torn leaving their pets behind at home. This gives homesick pet-owners a way to still interact with their pet.

An additional hassle that most pet owners have to deal with is their pet's indecisiveness of whether they want to go outside. The solution for this was a pet door installed so the pet can come and go as they please. However, an unintended consequence is that other pet-size critters like raccoons or stray animals have access to your home as well. A modern solution to this problem is an automatic pet door that works with a sensor worn by your pet. The door will not work unless the pet is near. This ensures your pet is the only one that can exit and enter through the pet door.

IoT pet devices cannot fully compensate for real care and attention for your pets, but like with everything else in tech, they were built to make life a little easier. Once consumers can trust IoT devices to make life easier for them and their pets, they are more likely to trust them for more critical tasks. Hopefully by the time that day comes, IoT security and other applications are advanced enough to be usable and reliable.

Welcome to the future.

Fabianne Rico is a Marketing Manager for Impekable, a design and development agency that specializes in using the latest technology and trends to create apps that are both useful and usable.

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