All pet-parents are familiar with the heart-sinking feeling that arises when they realize their beloved companion has gone missing (even when it's a false alarm, and it turns out your cat crawled behind the dryer….again). Similar to smart lock systems and senior care technology, pet tracking IoT solutions are aimed at providing users peace of mind and assistance when tracking a loved one's whereabouts.
Within IoT asset tracking solutions, such as pet tracking, there are a variety of connectivity options. This article will focus specifically on how pet tracking solutions can utilize Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
BLE is a type of Bluetooth connectivity that achieves extremely low energy consumptions. BLE is suitable for smaller-scale applications that don’t require sending a lot of data (i.e. tracking a few dogs in your home).
Although it offers long battery life and minimal risk of interference from other devices, Bluetooth asset tracking systems are notoriously limited by the range over which they can track items. BLE is relatively high range compared to other Bluetooth solutions but can only track up to a few hundred feet even with the best hardware and environmental conditions. This doesn't mean BLE is inherently bad. However, it could be unsuitable depending on the needs and limitations of the final solution one seeks.
Most pet owners don't need to do anything more than shake a food bag or follow a noisy collar to gain their pets' attention or track them down within their homes. However, in the case of pet tracking, BLE could fail at the most critical instance if your pet has traveled outside of the home potentially miles, if not farther, away.
Many existing pet tracking solutions utilize GPS because it possesses a universal ability to track your pet wherever it goes, unlike BLE. However, GPS devices drain battery fairly quickly due to the range and amount of data that they communicate.
One potential solution to track pets both in and outside the home is to default to Bluetooth while your pet is within range (i.e. in your home) and alert you when the Bluetooth connection is broken; signaling that your pet has escaped from the house. At that point, the system would switch to GPS tracking. This would enable longer battery life (consider weeks opposed to days), while still providing accurate location reporting when it's most critical.
As with many IoT applications, the synthesis of multiple technologies, such as BLE and GPS in this case, creates an optimized solution that capitalizes on the strengths of underlying technologies while also covering their blind spots.