This is an ingenious, free smartphone app combined with a battery powered collar tag sending a Bluetooth signal, which allows a pet owner to find their lost companion.
Pawscout incorporates a tag which the cat or dog wears and an app that alerts members of the public when lost animals are nearby. It is to be launched next year, 2015. It looks like it might have potential because the ease with which a person can lose their cat is quite concerning. Although the promotional video only features a dog so this smart phone app may be primarily designed for dogs.
Smart phone owners who download the Pawscout app are alerted when a lost pet wearing a tag wanders nearby. The battery-powered tag, which in the UK costs £19, send out a Bluetooth signal which can be detected by smart phones up to 250 feet away.
When a person loses their cat or dog companion and they have the app on their smart phone they can flag up their pet as missing which then activates a finding function.
The application then is able to detect the last pet. Anyone who has the app and finds the lost animal automatically receive details about the animal together with the owner’s contact information.
The owner then received a notification and details of the location of their lost companion.
The app also stores health, behavioral and dietary information about the companion animal, which allows the person who finds the animal to care for him or her before they are reunited with their owner.
Clearly, the success of this new pet finder smartphone-based system depends upon how many people download the app onto their phone.
Pet owners can also set up a predefined boundary beyond which their cat or dog must not roam and if they do so they receive an alert from their smart phone app.
In the USA more than 10,000,000 pets lost annually. Sadly only 10% are recovered. Pawscout believes that using new technology and the ubiquitous smartphone app that they can do better at reuniting lost pets with their owners.
They even say that micro-chipping has not proved successful in their video. I am not sure that is strictly fair but I don’t know of the success rate of microchipping. There are weaknesses in microchipping.
The founder of this new system believes that finding a lost pet is a community problem. He is therefore relying upon the community to help a member of that community locate their lost cat or dog.
Accordingly, this system does depend upon the cooperation of the community together with the popularity of this smart phone app so that it is used by a significant number of people within the community. Without that network of community users, what is called a “mesh network”, the system will clearly fail.
There is a threshold below which it will fail and above which it will succeed and so the founder’s efforts will be in ensuring that the threshold is reached.
The tag which is worn by the cat or dog is powered by a standard watch battery. It should last about a year. The app on the smartphone receives a warning if the battery is low.
Pawscout will be partering with ASPCA in the USA. I don’t know their plans for Europe and the UK.