New tech helps solo pet owners

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New tech helps solo pet owners

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LG U+’s “pet STATION” and “StarWalk” help solitary pet owners manage their furry friends using Internet of Things technologies. [LG U+]

When a 39-year-old woman’s solitary lifestyle started feeling more like outright loneliness, she began to consider getting a dog.

But the woman, who requested anonymity, wasn’t sure if it would be the right decision - she spends most of her day at work, and her friends reminded her that raising a pet entails significant responsibility.

She also knew it would be challenging to find someone to take care of her pet when she has to travel, either for business or pleasure.

These worries are common among pet owners today, who are increasingly living alone, elderly or both. Aiming to make things a little easier, mobile carrier LG U+ has come up with several solutions targeting pet owners of a more solitary demographic.

The company on Monday introduced two new products - pet Station and StarWalk - that are based on Internet of Things (IoT) technology, allowing owners to remotely feed or manage the activity of their pets via a smartphone app.

“Pet STATION” enables owners to feed their pets from afar.

The owner can either set the feeding time in advance, or feed their pet straight away via an app. The service can be useful for those who have to frequently leave the house for business trips or other kinds of travel.

The feeding station is installed with camera and walkie-talkie functions, which facilitate interactions between owner and pet.

Voice recording is also possible and can be used to automatically play the owner’s voice for their pet at certain times.

In the case of pre-scheduled feeding, the “smart call” function automatically calls the owner one minute prior to feeding, and then activates the camera so that the user can check on the pet approaching for a meal.

“StarWalk,” on the other hand, measures a pet’s physical activity - including the number of steps taken and calories burned - through a star-shaped device worn on the animal’s collar. The star sends the data to a smartphone via Bluetooth, which can be checked at any time to keep an eye on a pet’s health. The accessory also sends reminders about scheduled injections or feeding via a small LED light. It can even detect the pet’s barking and alert the owner.

The monthly fee for using the “pet STATION” service is 1,100 won ($1), while the device costs 129,000 won. “Starwalk” costs 66,000 won and no monthly fees are required.

“With the increase in elderly and single households, there’s a growing demand for pets,” explained Kim Si-young of the LG U+ Home IoT business department. “We plan to provide consumers with convenience and a chance to interact closer with pets through IoT platforms.”

According to Nonghyup Economic Research Institute, the domestic pet-related market has grown from 900 billion won in 2012 to 1.81 trillion won this year. The market is expected to expand further to 5.81 trillion won by 2020.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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