Finding Fido

Man's best friend has been a faithful companion through the ages. Dogs provide companionship and increasingly are responsible for keeping their owners active.

The more active breeds of dog can cover huge distances quickly, and it only takes a distraction like a bird or rabbit for a dog to disappear into the distance. Take Fenton, for example, the plucky black Labrador that became an internet sensation after he went after a herd of deer in Richmond Park.

The trouble is, many dogs end up lost and disorientated, potentially miles away from their owners. For the families involved, this can lead to hours of searching and shouting the dog’s name in the hope that they will eventually come back. So can technology and the engineer lend a hand?

The Challenge

The challenge this month is to therefore come up with a way of tracking a dog while out on country walks in case they decide to suddenly go AWOL. While microchipping is definitely a way of identifying lost pets, for this challenge
we want to be able to actively track the dog’s movements in real-time.

Any device would almost certainly need to be small and light and not encroach on the dog any more than a collar. Any device would also not be limited to coverage over any geographical area.

The device should be able to act as a virtual leash so, if a dog is walking off a leash and begins to stray too far from the owner, an alarm will sound to let the owner know it is time to call their dog back closer before ‘Fido’ disappears into the distance.

Our solution comes from US start-up Findster Duo: GPS Pet Tracker.

The Findster Duo is a pet locator that uses high-precision GPS to track the location of the dog in real-time. By using the Findster App, owners can check a dog’s position on an overlay map on a phone and know exactly where to look. The app includes a built-in radar that shows the distance to the dog.

At the core of Findster Duo is the MAZE technology that allows two modules, one for the dog and one for the human, to communicate wirelessly up to a range of up to two miles, eliminating the need for a mobile connection to send the GPS coordinates - effectively removing the need for monthly fees.