CXO

​Keeping tabs on man's best friend: AI for pets improves work-life balance

Advances in pet monitoring technology keep employees informed and happy.

People love their pets. Over the past decade, Gen Z and Millennials accounted for more than half of the growth in the population of pet owners, according to the report Gen Z and Millennials as Pet Market Consumers: Dogs, Cats, Other Pets, by Market research firm Packaged Facts. Further, the report estimated that the 57 million 18- to 39-year-old pet owners account for 41% of all adults owning pets.

Many businesses find that adopting pet-friendly policies both attracts and retains workers. According to CBS News (Employers offer "pawternity" benefits to attract animal lovers) pet-friendly policies could range from offering new pet owners "pawternity leave" to help adjust newly adopted pets to a new home or allowing workers to use paid time off when pets become ill.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

IoT benefits pet owners

A host of IoT, big data, and analytics solutions keep pet owners informed in real time about what their pets do and how happy they are when their owners work away from home.

"Many owners have to leave their dogs for long periods while they are at work," said Nick Hill, founder, and CEO of Sure Petcare, which provides pet monitoring technology. "We found they wanted to understand what their dogs were doing while they were apart. Knowing what your dog's day was like when you get home can be very reassuring or enlightening."

Sure Petcare sells the Animo activity tracker and behavior monitor for dogs. This IoT device is placed on a dog's collar and collects data on a 24/7 basis. Device storage enables it to retain data for as long as three weeks. This data is then uploaded to the cloud and is accessed by dog owners on their mobile devices.

However, when users link into the cloud, they get more than just data. Animo uses an adaptive algorithm that learns, interprets, and provides facts specific to the dog.

"The data collected allows owners to understand what their pets do when the pets aren't with them," said Hill. "This covers everything from pets getting enough rest or being relaxed. Dog owners can also see how much exercise their dog gets and even that the dog walker has been in and walked the dog."

The IoT device also monitors elements of dog behavior, such as how often a dog shakes, scratches, or barks. "A slowly or rapidly increasing amount of any of these traits can be an early indicator of negative environmental changes or illness," said Hill.

SEE: Special report: Sensor'd enterprise: IoT, ML, and big data (TechRepublic download)

Pet monitoring tech expands

Many companies are capitalizing on pet monitoring technology offering items ranging from electronic collars to cameras that monitor a pet's location, activity, and emotional state. For example, according to CNET, Samsung's Connect Tag works with GPS, Wi-Fi-based positioning (WPS), and cell ID for pet location tracking (Samsung lets loose new tracking device for your kids and pets). CNET also reported that items such as smart pet doors come with features that can make the life of a pet owner much easier (5 reasons why you'll want a smart pet door).

Advances in pet tech don't just make pet owners happy but IT, HR, and other corporate managers, too. When employees can keep in touch with their pets at home, their well-being and life-work balance improve, too.

"The number of job openings continues to exceed the number of job seekers in the US, forcing employers to reexamine their strategies for hiring and retaining top employees," said Heather Nezich, communications manager at the American Society of Employers . "Employee well-being is a key aspect that employers need to pay attention to when looking at retention strategies."

Never underestimate the role of a pet: Happy pets may mean happy workers.

Also see

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Image: CHENDONGSHAN, Getty Images/iStockphoto

About Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

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