The Future of Pet Tracking

July 20, 2017

 

PETS: A LARGE, WORLDWIDE MARKET…

 

Pets are more and more popular worldwide. Nowadays, they form a wide population. Europe and the US together account for no less than 455 million cats and dogs. (1) 

 

In the United States, pet owners became the majority in the late 80s and now account for nearly 70% of the North-Americans households (2), mainly thanks to the well-known popularity of dogs there. In Europe, one French family out of two, 11.5 million German people and 12 million British households have at least one cat or one dog. (3)

 

According to André Malm, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight, “most people consider their pets to be part of the family and are willing to spend significant amounts of money on pet products and accessories”. (4)

 

Figures from the Pet & Food Manufacturers Association and the American Pet Product Association highlight how much people are ready to spend on their pets: the market value for British pet care products reached around 5.2 billion euros (about $7.1bn) in 2016, including the British pet food market that was more than 2.6 billion pounds sterling (about $3.3bn). In the United States, the pet industry expenditure amounted for $ 66.75 billion in 2016, with around 32 billion spent on side products.

 

 

 

 

…FACING A GREAT PROBLEM

 

Nearly a half or more of the Western population have at least one pet at home, but those pet owners are facing a terrible problem: the loss of their beloved animals.

 

In France alone, more than 36,000 cats and 24,000 dogs were declared lost in 2016. (5) In Europe, it has been estimated that 1 pet out of 3 got lost at least once in its lifetime. (6) In the United States, a 2012 research shows that 14% of dog and 15% of cat owners had lost their pet in the past five years. (7)

 

And once your pets get outside their safe and known area, the chance that they find their way back is very slim. It is time for hours of searching the neighborhood, visiting nearby shelters, rallying friends, family and neighbors… And hoping that moving heaven and earth to find the little furry member of the family will be enough to get it safe back home.

 

 

CURRENT SOLUTIONS AND THEIR LIMITS

 

A number of companies have begun to answer the issue of lost and stolen pets but this market is still in its infancy despite having started something like 10 years ago. 

 

The most common technology used is locating pets with a GPS tracker. This solution allows you to locate your pet anywhere if he is wearing a special collar equipped with a GPS tracker which technically includes a GPS chipset, a 2G/3G communication module to send this data to the cloud and a battery to power the whole thing. 

 

The inconvenient of this method: the collar is generally quite big and sometimes unaesthetic. If not big, its battery needs to be charged frequently, every few days. The battery life of most collar does not go beyond a week and the charging requires a few hours. Unfortunately this makes it another device to charge frequently in the household, on top of your phone, tablet, etc.

 

Moreover, GPS tracking devices are expensive in use. The total cost of ownership for a three years service, will be something between €230 and €310 depending on the brand and the tracking frequency required. This cost includes the initial price of the device (the GPS collar) plus a monthly subscription to the service. Most of the different solutions currently on the market require a monthly fee from €3.5 to €10 per month in order to access the location of your pet.

 

According to research firm Berg Insight, there were an estimated 300,000 pets monitored using GPS locator devices in Europe and North America at the end of 2015. The Compound Annual Growth rate of the market is expected to be 45% until 2021, when the number of such devices will reach 2.8 million units. (8)

 

Despite this growth, the penetration rate in the pet population will be only around 0.6% in 2021, quite a niche compared to the whole opportunity. 

 

To go mainstream this market needs a new kind of location tracking technology that both lowers the overall cost of the solution and eliminates the cumbersome battery charging issue of current products.

 

 

LOCATION TRACKING REVOLUTION

 

To answer these market requirements CROWDLOC invented a low power, affordable location tracking solution that uses Bluetooth® Low energy tags. These tags, also called beacons, can run on a button cell battery for more than a year and can weight as little as 10 grams. 

 

The CROWDLOC technology is made of a mobile software (SDK) implemented in the mobile applications (iOS and Android) of our partners which build a community of smartphones that geolocates 24/7 the assets of the CROWDLOC Alliance using the signal of Bluetooth® Low Energy (4.0) tags. 

 

With CROWDLOC the “data“ cost (device to server) and the “location“ cost (GPS chipset and related battery) is somewhat outsourced from the tracking device and used on smartphones that already have large data plan and sophisticated location tracking technologies for outdoor and indoor (GPS, WiFi triangulation, inertial sensors…).

 

Using the CROWDLOC technology our B2B partners can offer to their customers a low cost location tracking solution that is five times or more cheaper than a GPS + cellular technology. 

 

CROWDLOC even largely beats on price new options such as the association of GPS and Low Power Wide-Area (LPWAN) networks such as LoRa and Sigfox. These networks, while lighter in infrastructure than cellular still need antennas to be deployed and maintained, hence a significant cost that is ultimately passed to the end users bill.

 

Some of these new networks, and particularly LoRa, are now starting to offer network-based location technologies, meaning they could ideally remove the GPS component - and the associated battery consumption - on the tracker. However the precision of the location provided by the network is tightly linked to the number of antennas deployed: the more antennas, the better the location precision. 

 

To provide precise location (sub 50 meter) they need a lot of antennas which: first, is not the case today in most of such networks, second, has a clear consequence on the overall infrastructure cost, and finally is kind of beating the whole purpose of such networks: i.e. a “Wide Area Network“ with far less antennas than the GSM (2G/3G/4G) networks.

 

CROWDLOC definitely provides an unmatched low cost, long battery life location tracking solution. Learn more on our website: http://www.crowdloc.community and join the CROWDLOC Alliance.

 

 

Sources:

(1) American Pet Products Association (2015-2016) and FEDIAF Facts & Figures (2014)

(2) APPA National Pet Owner Survey and Statista figures (2016)

(3) Le Parisien (2015), Statista and Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (2017)

(4) Berg Insight (2016) Berg Insight says 2.8 million pets to be equipped with tracking devices in Europe and North America by 2021

(5) I-CAD (France) 2016 figures - https://www.i-cad.fr/actualites/292

(6) Figures displayed by the European pet tracker Kippy

(7) “Frequency of Lost Dogs and Cats in the United States and the Methods Used to Locate Them“ - http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/2/2/301

(8) Berg Insight (2016) Berg Insight says 2.8 million pets to be equipped with tracking devices in Europe and North America by 2021

 

 

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