What is Solar-Trak?
Solar-Trak is a light-weight, solar-powered, GPS device that attaches to the existing collar of your pet of almost any size, allowing you to track their whereabouts from your iPhone or Android.
The final package will include the Solar-Trak GPS collar attachement, an RF transponder & a backup USB charge cable.
Find your pet with your Smartphone - If your pet decides to go on an adventure and leave your home, Solar-Trak allows you to find them using Google Maps and the Solar-Trak iPhone / Android app
Solar Powered - Tiny solar-panels placed next to the GPS unit keeps your battery charged, so you don't have the constant hassle of taking it off of your pet and plugging it into mains power to recharge.
Attaches to your pets collar - Not ready to replace your existing pets' collar? Solar-Trak attaches safely and securely to your existing dog or cat collar of any size.
Small size and Light-Weight - Solar-Trak is tiny! Weighing in at approximately 43 grams (1.5 ounces) , it is suitable for even small dogs and cats.
Works out of the box in 145 countries around the world- No messy data contracts or conditions, Solar-Trak works immediately the moment you charge it for the first time. You get the first 12 months of data usage for free when you purchase, following that it costs a tiny $30 a year to keep the service active.
How does it work?
1. Attach it to your pets collar - Solar-Trak takes only seconds to attach to your pets collar, it attaches using a super-high grip velcro that is stitched to a durable flexible material. This not only makes it comfortable for your pet but allows it the flexibility to attach to almost any collar size.
2. Place the transponder - One of the secrets to the success of Solar-Trak is a tiny solar powered RF transponder that you place somewhere around your home in direct sunlight. The transponder emits an RF signal to the Solar-Trak device telling it to stay out of 'GPS' mode. This significantly saves battery life and coupling this with the solar panels on the Solar-Trak collar attachment, in most cases the battery will remain fully charged with only minimal sunlight.
3. The iPhone / Android app does the rest - When you install the app, draw a safe zone around your home .. Solar-Trak is now monitoring your pet !
If your pet jumps the fence and gets away, the Solar-Trak app starts to alert you and you can now track your pet using the app and Google Maps.
The Solar-Trak prototype in action....
Check out a small clip of the Solar-Trak product in action from the prototype testing...
Currently we have just the simple prototype chassis in black however once we enter the mass production stage we will release them in 3 unique colors, black, blue & pink.
Who we are and why we created Solar-Trak
Dallas Wood - CEO Sean Russell - Project Developer
Dallas has contributed greatly to the Information Technology community, both from a technical and business development viewpoint. He thrives on the excitement of developing small technology companies from modest originations to profitable and reputable standpoints. After a successful 6 years of working as a network engineer and business development manager for other businesses, he branched out to form his own network of businesses that have been successfully operating with steady growth since 2009. For Dallas, Solar-Trak is an outcome 10 years technical and business development experience combined with a goal to one day develop an innovative product to disrupt and greatly improve a niche section of the technology market.
Sean has an extensive history in Information Technology, specifically in the area of enterprise level communications. Over his 25 years in IT, He has worked as a project manager & technical advisor on many high level government projects, including a period of time for the Australian Defence Force. He’s always had a unique ability to break down technical problems that others can’t solve, making him an integral part of technical development of the Solar-Trak product. For Sean, Solar-Trak is an outcome of 25 years in lead technical positions, combined with a constant drive and wish to create a product that changes people’s lives for the better.
Why did we create Solar-Trak?
The Solar-Trak story started over a cup of coffee, when the topic came up that a friend of ours had their pet dog Rollie escape (featured in sections of the project). In this case they were lucky to get him back, however the comment came up that "wouldn't it be nice if your dog could send you a text message of where they were". And the rest is history, here we are a year later ready to take our solution to this problem to the world market.
Why are we capable of delivering this project?
Put simply, experience, experience, experience. As mentioned above in our profiles, we have a combined 35 years experience in I.T, and specifically the fields of web / app and communications technologies.
What's more we are emotionally invested in the project as we have both been through the terrible experience of losing a furry family member and its not an experience we would wish upon anyone. With Solar-Trak we can help to reduce or nearly prevent altogether, families losing their pets.
Lastly the great thing about Solar-Trak is there has not been any wildly revolutionary changes to any of the circuit level technology. Most of the parts used are available already and to make Solar-Trak work only require very basic modifications, and as we've had several prototypes functioning for many months now, technological problems with the project will be almost impossible.
What is our ultimate goal and future vision for the product and company?
We see great opportunity for the future of the new company, we feel we've created not only a product that works extremely well, but a brand that people can identify with. Further to growing the worldwide distribution of the Solar-Trak product, we one day hope to see advanced wildlife versions of the product that not for profit or professional organizations can use for wild animal research, and of course, as with this version of Solar-Trak, never having to worry about recharging.
Our aim from the start was to produce a unit that required very little battery power, and was as tiny as possible in size. With the first few generations of Solar-Trak we started with chip-sets that were far too 'chunky' and power hungry, and its only with very recent development in GPS chip size reduction, we were able to realize a prototype that fit our original vision of size and style.
The final product fits nicely over just about any collar size, it's almost invisible on a larger dog collar but still tiny enough not to weigh down a smaller cat collar.
We have designed software that will allow Solar-Trak to be controlled from almost anywhere, Iphone, Android, tablets, desktops & laptop machines. Because of our long history in communications based software development, we were lucky enough to have many of the required code modules pre-developed and ready to use on the Solar-Trak project. Aside from logistical work, much of our activities post-Kickstarter will be surrounding the finalization of each of the supporting software platforms.
We've been testing the Solar-Trak prototypes on several of our furry friends for many months, and we're happy to say they seem to love it just as much as we do ... a big thank-you goes out to all our Solar-Trak 'pioneer families', for helping us get the product to where it is today :)
Manufacturing & Distribution
We are in discussions with a few manufacturers to secure the best possible price for mass produced parts, the aim of course is to source the best price without compromising on quality. To help ensure a quality finished product, we intend on ordering individual parts from our manufacturing partners, then assembling and running quality assurance within the confines of our own business.
To give everyone an idea of where the entire project has progressed to to date, and how long it will take us to deliver on our pledge rewards:
- We have already setup all required supporting systems for the software in reliable data centres, one in Australia and one in the US. The software itself is currently in a functional demonstration state, and we will continue to finalize & test this up to the delivery date of the first round of Solar-Trak units in March 2014
- The hardware is fully functional and we could technically sell these immediately, however like most prototypes, they are a bit ugly :) A good portion of our Kickstarter funding will be invested in a large pre-order of parts for a first round mass-production run, in our 3 chosen colors featured above. All going as planned then these should be ready for distribution in March 2014
Here's a graphical timeline of the hardware, software & logistical 'sub-projects' that form the Solar-Trak path to mass production development:
March 2013 to November 2013
November 2013 to March 2014
We thought it best to add-in a few of the things we were consistently asked throughout the realization of the project, if your questions aren't answered here or throughout the rest of the Kickstarter content please contact us at any time
Is Solar-Trak waterproof?
Water-RESISTANT yes. Your unit will be safe in the rain, and even when your pet wants to go for a swim. The unit is totally sealed and water incursion will not happen unless the unit is fully submerged underneath water at a pressurized depth for a long period. So unless your pet likes to go scuba diving when you aren't around or can breathe under water for uncanny amounts of time, all will be fine :)
What happens if i can't get enough sun to my Solar-trak ?
The system actually requires only very little sun to keep active, however should you find you are running out of battery, the iPhone / Android app will alert you the battery is getting low, and you can top it up with a USB to PC charging cable.
In what countries will Solar-Trak work?
Our GPS SIM's connect to over 500 cellular networks worldwide, so you can be confident as long as you have mobile phone access then Solar-Trak will work for you. If in doubt, please contact us and we can answer any concerns you may have.
What happens if some of the solar panels break, will it still charge?
If you somehow break a few of the solar panels, the system is wired on a parallel loop to ensure the remaining cells will still charge the battery, you will of course need more sun exposure to achieve the same battery life. If you break ALL of the panels of course it will not charge in the sun however as mentioned in the previous FAQ, you can always top the unit up with your USB charge cable. As discussed in the video though the solar panels are very tough and durable and it would take an extreme force to cause damage.
Will I ever be charged excess data / SMS charges?
In the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand ... no. In some other countries due to limitations in telecommunications there could be additional charges, ONLY if your pet was escaping on almost a daily basis, and you were continually using SMS notifications. The charges would only be small and will be for the SMS's messages only, nothing else. Keep in mind that SMS notifications can actually be turned off totally and you can just use the app notifications, in which case there will never be any data charges from Solar-Trak. We will also be implementing a policy to alert any users that are likely to exceed our fair use policies to assist with avoiding any additional charges.
What are our plans for the Kickstarter funding
We have a clearly defined destination for the base Kickstarter proceeds which will include:
- Manufacturing the mass-production 'coloured' versions of the Solar-Trak device
- Buying parts to service all pre-sold units
- Improving the Solar-Trak cloud based web application and iPhone / Android apps from their current state to a full production platform
- A small investment in marketing to get the product to the wholesale / retail markets
Additionally, the low pricing of the Solar-Trak units is only possible by a minimum volume pre-order of parts through our chosen suppliers. We wanted to pass these savings onto our backers, party as a thank-you for the early support, but of course to help us reach our targets as quickly as possible.
Every pledge get's a reward ... anything from $99 upward, and you are guaranteed your very own final production version of Solar-Trak for yourself. Here are a few of the other ways we are saying thankyou:
$10 and up - A personal thank you! - We are thankful for every dollar that gets us closer to our goal, and for $10 and up we send you a thank you email from the development team, as well as recognize you on our website as an official project supporter.
$25 and up - NOT a T-shirt - T-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts .. no we AREN'T doing a t-shirt :) But at the $25 mark we want you to have something nice to remember us by, and what is more appropriate for a 'pet' company than creating some nice stainless steel 'dog-tags' to give away:
$99 and up - For all those that can pledge $99 and above (limited release at $99, regular price then goes to $129), we have already mentioned you will get your very own Solar-Trak product, but we'll also be sending you the thank you email, recognizing you on our website, and throwing in one of the Solar-Trak dog-tags.
And now something just for a bit of fun ...
The video featured in this Kickstarter project was filmed and produced entirely by our own internal team, and while we are all technologically capable, we all only have very limited video production knowledge, and we found out first hand just how difficult it is to create a video worthy of production.
The process was a great deal of fun but also at times incredibly stressful, and during those stressful times one of best remedies was laughter, and laugh we did, at this small collection of out-takes from the final production ... take a look, and don't hold anything against us :P