Shortly after adopting our 15-pound terrier mix, Pip, he escaped through the fence to chase after a squirrel. Our family immediately went into panic-mode. We searched all over. We called neighbors and animal control. In the end, he was found eating trash from a dumpster at a nearby hotel. We were relieved to find him, but the helpless feeling lingered as we thought about the horrible things that could have happened.
Several months later, my in-laws' cat, Juniper, went missing. Days went by and Juniper still hadn’t returned. At this point we all began to fear the worst. Nearly a week later, Juniper was found trapped deep under the porch with a dislocated knee. Risking getting stuck herself, my mother-in-law crawled under the porch to rescue Juniper and rush her to the vet. Unfortunately, Juniper’s hind leg had to be amputated. If we had found her sooner, the vet would have been able to save her leg.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents and the sad truth is that many lost pet stories have worse endings. No one expects a pet to go missing, but since I began working on this project, I’ve heard hundreds of stories of missing pets. Most of the time, the pet had never shown any signs of running off before, but then something unpredictable happened. Each year, nearly ten million pets are reported missing. These pets are members of the family. While everyone has a different story, the panic, fear and trauma of each experience is always palpable.
We all want to be good pet owners. We do our best to keep our pets happy and healthy by giving them the best food, keeping them active, and taking them into the vet for regular checkups. As the owner of a small dog with a passion for chasing squirrels, one of my greatest fears is that Pip will escape and run blindly into traffic. I built this device out of my desire to give myself the peace of mind that I can find him quickly if this happens and I named it Pip, since he was the inspiration behind it.
What is Pip?
Never lose your pet again. No matter where he runs off to.
Pip is a small device that attaches to your pet’s collar. With Pip, your pet will never be lost again. If your pet leaves a safe area, Pip will send you an alert with your pet’s exact location. Our app will then use the GPS in your phone and the GPS in Pip to guide you to your pet. You can also send out an alert to neighbors and friends.
Pip uses a cellular data connection to transmit the GPS location of your pet, so even if she manages to run across the country, you’ll be able to see her exact location.
How is Pip different?
We understand that a GPS tracker with a cellular connection is not a new idea. However, the trackers that are currently available are all bulky, with poor battery life, and expensive monthly fees. In contrast, Pip is small, with excellent battery life, our Kickstarter backers will have no monthly fees and Pip will offer additional features beyond GPS.
Secure and comfortable. Even for small pets.
We designed Pip so that you can attach it comfortably and securely to your pet’s collar. Pip is durable and weather sealed to ensure that it can withstand the rigors of an active pet's life; even if your pet is a swimmer! As the owners of small dogs and cats, we know that size is important, so we’ve worked hard to keep Pip as small as possible, while still maintaining great battery life.
Months of battery life.
The battery in Pip will last up to 3 months on a single charge, meaning that you only need to charge it a few times a year. We are able to achieve such great battery life by putting Pip into a low-power mode whenever it is near you or your home. Each Pip will come with a home base station that doubles as a charging station. Pip will communicate wirelessly with this station and with any bluetooth device that you link to it. So, even if you take your dog for a long walk, Pip will stay in low-power mode as long as it’s within a safe distance of your phone. When Pip's battery does run low, we’ll send you a text. To charge Pip, simply place it on the home base station and within a couple of hours, you’ll get another alert, letting you know that your Pip is fully charged.
Keep your pet healthy.
An active pet is a healthy pet. To help make sure your pet is getting enough exercise, Pip will keep track of your pet’s daily movements and let you know exactly how active your pet is on a given day. Over time, we can use this data to alert you to changing trends in your pet’s behavior. These trends are normally hard to notice. By alerting pet owners to these trends, we can help catch potentially harmful medical conditions while they are still treatable.
We will give our backers an active role.
One way our backers will be involved is helping us decide the colors that we should use for our device. We want to make sure that your pet looks good while wearing their Pip. We'll also reach out and inform you about important updates and ask for feedback along the way. In the end, we want Pip to not simply be a tracker, but to be your tracker for your pets.
The PetSimpl App
First and foremost, our app will make it extremely easy to find your pets if they go missing. With a simple tap, your pet’s GPS location will appear on a map and our app will guide you there, turn by turn.
Embrace the power of community.
Second, our app will allow you to create a pet profile with a photo and key information about your pet. If your pet goes missing, with the press of a button, you can send out an alert to nearby users and trusted connections with your pet’s profile and exact location. Once your pet is found, the alert will deactivate.
As our user base grows, we envision our app as a way for pet owners to connect with each other. Set up pet play dates at the local dog park and exchange information about the best walking trails and pet-friendly spots in your community. You’ll also be able to trade photos and videos, and to compete with other pets to see who can be the most active any given week.
Our app is currently in the early stages of development. We've laid out the details for the above plan to our developers, but ultimately, we want you, our customers to tell us which features are most important. We will begin coding the app in earnest at the close of the campaign. We'll be reaching out to our backers to see what features you are most passionate about and develop the app around your needs. If enough of our backers tell us to add a new feature that we hadn't thought of, we'll happily add it to the app! We look forward to working closely with you, our backers, to make the PetSimpl app the best it can be.
Our Vision: Pip as the center of connected pet
Our vision at PetSimpl is to create products that help make it easier for all of us to be better pet owners. We see Pip as a critical component of this overall vision. At launch, Pip will be able track your pet's activity and help protect your pet from being lost, but Pip has the potential to offer so much more value.
We plan on using the proximity detection capabilities of Pip to connect your pet to your home and other devices to help give you a better understanding of your pet's habits and activities. Two devices that we plan to release toward this vision are a pet door that uses Pip as the key and a programmable pet food dispenser.
The pet door will prevent unwelcome animals from getting into your house, while giving your pet the freedom to come and go during the hours that you choose. You'll be able to set different permissions for different pets as well, if, for example, you want to give your cat total freedom, while only letting your dog out between the hours of 7am and 7pm.
All of the data from these accessories will be viewable in our app, giving you an incredible view of the life of your pets. You'll be able to see and control when they are eating, drinking, coming and going. Our servers will crunch this data and alert you to patterns and changes in behavior.
We will also be creating an API for those that want to create automated actions in their home based on their pet's location.
We’ve been working on making Pip a reality for the past year. In that time, we’ve gone through several prototypes and form factors and received an overwhelming amount of support along the way. We first pitched the idea for Pip at the Innovation Challenge in October 2013. By early April 2014, we had acquired several incredible mentors and won top prize in this competition, giving us the startup capital to build the initial prototype.
In May, we were accepted as a finalist at MassChallenge, giving us office space in Boston and allowing us to add to our amazing group of mentors, while also expanding our network of connections. While at MassChallenge, we completed our first working prototype and went on to build the next version, as well as the casing and onboard software.
Watch Pip and Dave's appearance on NECN.
We’ve been working tirelessly to build Pip and to line up partnerships with our suppliers and manufacturers. We are preparing for our first production run and need your help to make the final push.
If you want a peek at some of the tech involved, check out the video below of our engineer, Ayo, testing out the proximity features of an early prototype.
The next video is a brief demo of the GPS technology, showing a quick latitude and longitude send from the prototype and how this can be used to guide you to your pet's location. We are still developing the user interface for the app, so for this demo, we use Google Maps, since we will be incorporating their API into our app, so the interface will be similar.
Below, we have the layout for our first working prototype. It is a double-sided board approximately 32mm by 32mm. For this prototype we were using a LOCOSYS S4-0606 GPS module and a SIMCOM GSM module to send the data. To save board space, we designed the new version to use a CDMA module with integrated GPS, removing the need for a SIM Card and separate GPS module.
How you can help
By preordering Pip for your pet, you are helping us make our dream a reality. The funds from this campaign will go towards the initial tooling, certification and manufacturing costs for Pip. Even if you don't have a pet, we encourage you to give Pip as a gift to a friend or family member with a pet.
Every dollar helps, so if you believe in what we're working towards, please chip in whatever you can, no matter how small.
We are immensely grateful for all of the support we have received so far. We could never have gotten this far without the support of our friends, family, mentors, community and, of course, our loving pets! We cannot thank you enough. We can't wait to bring Pip to market and help make the world a safer place for our pets.
Risks and challenges
As with any project, there is a chance that there will be a delay. Possible delays may result from factors that are out of our hands, such as the process of certifying the device and the potential queue at the manufacturer.
We promise to do everything in our power to meet our ship dates and we are confident with our timeline.
We will be updating all our backers with progress every step of the way with full transparency. If there is a delay, you will know why and what we're doing about it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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