How to Find Anything - Even the Cat
A while ago we had the misfortune to lose our cat. I say lost, it was actually stolen, and it took an interesting living room conversation to get him back.
Anyway, he was gone for 8 weeks and transported 35 miles away, but during the time he was gone we had no idea if he was gone forever, or just around the corner.
Tired of going through the same searching process every day and not knowing, should he go missing again, if he was in a neighbour’s shed or in Southampton, I started to investigate if there was an answer in technology.
My first thoughts were to use some form of GPS tracker, but I found that the transmitter would be too heavy for the cat and battery life too short, so that was ruled out.
Eventually I found a radio tracker, especially for pets, with a tag that attaches to the collar. It came with a handset which beeps when the tag is in range (up to 300m) and gets louder the closer to the tag it gets (more info here).
It obviously won't tell us when the cat had taken another road trip (the range doesn’t allow that) but it does allow us to locate him when he's asleep under a hedge, or just hiding behind the sofa (that happens quite a lot).
Thinking on a wider scale, there's no reason why this just has to be attached to a pet. Just think of all the things that you spend time looking for and are only a few metres from - keys, handbag…children(!)
This turns a 10 minute frantic search into a task that takes seconds. Tracking and tagging technology is only going to grow as a market, which ties in nicely with one of Steve's post about the Internet of Things; everything will have the potential to be connected, and objects will be more interactive than ever before.
I believe that this story sums up how we use technology. Technology is the tool which helps us solve a problem, or get something done more effectively, quicker, and with less stress, making the impossible or impractical becoming possible and doable.
Technology is constantly evolving too so just because something isn't doable or affordable now doesn't mean that it will always be that way.
Essentially, there are always multiple ways of using technology to achieve the ultimate aim. So we have to be driving the technology.
My aim in the case above was, "Where's the cat?" and it was important to research thoroughly and speak to other people before deciding on the right solution to meet my requirements.
If I hadn't done my research, I may have ended up with something expensive, unwieldy and ultimately doesn't work, like this.