Not everyone goes so far as to call their cat or dog their baby, but most Australians do consider their pets a part of their family, and that’s reflected in how much we spend on them: Australia spends over $6 billion a year on feeding and grooming pets and keeping them healthy. There’s a lot pet owners can control, but one of the biggest worries is what – or where – pets get up to when there’s no one home.
Sydney-based Sensonix has created Petguard, a device to help pet owners know that their pets are keeping out of areas they shouldn’t be in.
Petguard works through ultrasonic waves sent between a ‘sentinel’ tower and pet tag. Owners can position the tower, which has a range of up to six metres, in an area they don’t want pets in and, if the pet gets too close, the tower will either sound an alarm to surprise the pet into leaving or send an app notification to the owner via Bluetooth. Owners can choose between two alarms – one inaudible to the human ear, or a loud tone to alert them to intervene.
Through the app, owners can set schedules for which kinds of alerts they want to receive at what times. For example, they can choose to sound the inaudible alarm at night, when everyone is asleep, for only the pet to hear. As well as removing immediate danger, the device works to train the dog through consistent reinforcement.
Paul Moutzouris, founder of Sensonix, which has been working through his design company Ingenuity Electronics Design, said the idea came from experiences with his own pets.
“My current dog Charlie gets into the kitchen bin every other day when we’re not looking and makes a mess. My cat Cookie has been caught several times in the baby’s cot. This was a really worry for us as parents for hygiene and safety reasons. Cookie also almost singlehandedly destroyed an expensive sofa and curtains by using them as scratching posts,” he said.
“No matter how much we tried, we just couldn’t completely stop those behaviours because we couldn’t watch our pets all the time. Also, it’s not effective to try and train a pet after the fact. In speaking to other pet owners, I found we were not alone.”
Having designed over 100 products across the biomedical, industrial, and automotive industries for various clients, Moutzouris decided that it was time to create his own. Moutzouris self funded Petguard, with the design and production process taking around five months of work across two years, with .
There are a number of other pet training products in the market, but Petguard may be one of the most pet-friendly: various products use chemicals to keep pets away, others sense only movement and can’t properly differentiate between pets and people, and some statically zap the pets.
Moutzouris decided to fund the last stages of Petguard’s production on Kickstarter, but has a back up plan if the campaign is unsuccessful.
“I have countless emails from people expressing their understanding and appreciation of the product, however converting things to sales on Kickstarter has been challenging. It’s a big thing to ask people to give you money for a product they haven’t seen, which isn’t complete, and which they won’t get for a few months.”
Moutzouris will consider looking for investors or continue self funding the project to get it into the market.