Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Internet of Thinking: No More Fat Cats (or Dogs)

54% of the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese, according to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. One of the key reasons for this is that owners fail to recognize obesity.

I was introduced recently to a guy who is applying the principles of Internet of Thinking (IoTh) to solve this problem. If owners can’t recognize the problems that could shorten their pets’ lives, then why not teach a food bowl and a pet collar to perform those tasks?

This is a good example of Internet of Thinking (IoTh) logic, using new capabilities not to manufacture devices you don’t need, but instead to solve a pervasive problem about which people care deeply.

Bill Stewart is the founder of PetTrax, which is focusing on solving this – and similar – problems. He is knitting together sensors, networks, data storage, and analysis to create meaningful business value.

For pet owners who want to understand and improve their pets’ overall health, PetTrax promises to help owners remotely monitor and manage their pets’ nutrition and health habits.

While currently operating in stealth mode (he’s not ready to give away product details quite yet), PetTrax is developing connected products and data analytics services that will help pet owners keep their loved furry friends healthy and happy. The offering will provide convenience and peace-of-mind to pet owners who live busy lives and cannot always be at home to care for the on-going needs of their pets.

The PetTrax solution collects and analyzes data about pet behaviors and eating patterns. Connected products ensure that pets stay within their proper daily calorie allowance and, when appropriate, will alert the owner to potential health issues based on industry and veterinarian-recommended best practices for the breed, age and current health condition of each pet. The ability to operate in multi-pet homes is another key capability.

This is a great example of innovation through thinking differently. IoTh will produce new solutions to age-old problems. With a U.S. population of over 94 million cats and 83 million dogs, Bill has identified a valuable market – last year, over $58B was spent on pets in the U.S. and of that about $55B was categorized into food, vet care, supplies/meds, and pet services – and a persistent problem.

Bill’s venture has a distance yet to travel in order to succeed as a business proposition, and there will surely be others chasing this same market, but I love the use of varied technologies to create a solution where none existed previously. PetTrax unifies sensors, mobile devices, cloud-based processing, and relevant analytics.

Beyond the benefit of improved pet health, the economic potential comes from food waste avoidance and the lowered risk of obesity related diseases (resulting in savings associated with veterinarian and medication costs). His way of thinking is to create an entirely new capability, rather than merely automating an existing process.  That’s the IoTh come to reality.

Peter Allen has many years of operating experience as a top executive and strategic advisor for companies of all shapes and sizes, with focus on technology-enabled business services. He is now a Boston-based Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal.

Image: ramsey everydaypants/Flickr





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