We’ve seen plenty of pet tracker gadgets in the past. Some use tags, others radio signals. However, PATmicro is part of a new breed that use a combination of GPS and mobile technology.
Its makers, Pawtrax, first appeared four years ago as web resource for missing pets. They had no problem attracting users. Almost four million pets went missing in the last five years, according to research from Sainsbury’s Finance. Before long they were inundated with reports from owners whose dogs had run off never to be seen again.
PATmicro is their solution. After two years of research and development it finally made its bow to an excited industry at Discover Dogs in November.
It works very simply. A small device fits onto the collar of the pet. Owners track its location by sending a text message to Pawtrax. They get a reply detailing the position in the form of Googlemaps co-ordinates.
You can get the information in a number of ways. The ‘Find’ function gives a one-off location. Alternatively the ‘Track’ utility provides regular updates when you’re in pursuit.
Finally, you can use a ‘Secure’ mechanism that creates an invisible geo-fence. If your pet strays beyond it you get an alert on your mobile. It all seems straightforward enough, but does it work?
Success in this marketplace depends on usability and reliability, both of which PATmicro has in spades. It is small – no bigger than a matchbox – and weighs only 30g. Fitted onto the collar the animal will hardly notice it.
Using GPS also greatly expands the range compared with, for instance, locator tags. With GPS you should be able to find your pet literally anywhere in the world.
The only question mark is price. At slightly less than £150 some will see this as the kind of luxury credit crunch Britain can’t afford. Some people – cold heartless people – will point out you could simply buy another pet for the same price (several in fact).
But that ignores the deep bond that exists between pet and owner and that’s what this product helps preserve. It offers peace of mind; the knowledge that, even if your pet does decide to go walkabout, you’ll be able to track it down with just a single text. For any owner who’s suffered the agony of losing their beloved companion, that will be worth a King’s ransom.