10 weeks – 2020
Pen + Paper, Sketch,
Adobe Photoshop, Invision
Found is a GPS pet finding app with a communal twist. It allows you to recruit the help of your community if you are not able to reach your pet.
The challenge was to tackle a problem space of our choosing, and then plan, research, and design a digital solution that solved that problem using user experience tools and techniques.
This challenge was my Capstone project from the full time UX Design program at BrainStation in Toronto. A solo project that allowed me to use every skill I had acquired throughout the course. During this process, I learned how to move from Defining the Problem, to Research and Strategy, to Synthesis, to Ideation, and then to Prototyping.
1. IOS or Android compatible
2. Only 10 weeks to complete alone
3. Actually learning about UX/UI while completing the project
Years ago I worked at a pet store and spent my time running around dressed liked Steve Irwin. I had spent a lot of time driving back and forth to vets and the Humane Society in Winnipeg, and noticed that the Humane Society often seemed overcrowded with animals, to the point where they even had to move to a larger location. I had also seen a change at the pet store where we phased out puppies and kittens, and only accepted older cats and dogs to help with the growing numbers flooding shelters. These pets were a mix of stray, surrendered, and lost.
Key Research Insights
1. There is an overcrowding of cats and dogs in animal shelters.
2. Not enough shelter pet adoption.
3. Pet owners are not educated about proactive/active measures for dealing with lost pets
4. Pet owners need a fast and convenient way of finding their pet.
Personas + Journey Map
How might we facilitate the confusing and stressful process of finding lost pets for pet owners?
At this point I decided to focus on a GPS pet tracking app. If a pet owner knows where their pet is at any moment, this would highly reduce the number of lost pets, and the owner’s stress.
But what is you’re not near your pet? Maybe you are way across town at work, or on vacation.
Then what do you do? The app should have a feature that shares the pet’s location with the user’s community.
1. Not everyone will have a smartphone
This could be due to financial reasons or lack of interest and need. This refers to the friends and family of the primary user. Contact directly through the app might not be possible for some.
2. “One time use app”
This app is only useful in the moment. Most of the time, it won’t be needed. Also, other than the pet owner, people are most likely not going to want to download the app in the off chance the pet owner needs help. On average, mobile apps lose 77% of their daily average users within the first three days after download.
Fast and convenient way of finding your pet
(GPS tracking collar)
Community engagement when in need
(LOST mode that allows you to quickly connect with your friends and family, and share your pet’s location with them via Google Maps)
1. Tracking via GPS + Bluetooth + Wifi technology
2. Create a geofence
3. Notify their community about the lost pet
4. Quickly and easily contact their community
2. Activate Lost mode and call a friend
First task, creating a geofence, is the hero feature. Without it, the app wouldn't be the same. It's what notifies the owner about an escape. Unless you constantly look at your phone, your cat or dog could still get away. The geofence offers a fast and convenient way of finding your pet.
Second task, the feature that promotes community engagement, is the Lost mode. This mode quickly notifies trusted contacts about the whereabouts of the pet. To allow the user's contacts to have access to the pet's location without having to download the app, they receive a link to a private Google map accessible on the web, and password protected. Through Lost mode, you have the ability to contact them via text or call straight from the app.
In the last two and a half months, I had solved the problem I had set out to conquer, but, new problems always arise. What if the collar came off or the GPS battery died? You would have no way to track your pet, and you would be back to square one. This was an issue that no other app had tackled.
One thing that eventually came up, regarding cats more specifically, they are always climbing, jumping around, exploring, so collars have evolved to have a quick release in case it gets caught. This prevents the cat from choking, but, it also loses the collar. Then what does one do?
I had tackled this lightly by including a section in the pet profile with your pet’s microchip number (if they have one), and the app could send you periodic notifications to update your information.
Another solution that I added was a tracking history. This could be used to look at your pet’s hotspots/trails, and the general area and direction they were going in up to the point where contact was lost.
To go even further, I want to add the option to simply click one button, and your pet’s profile will be sent to all lost pet databases, vet clinics, and shelters within your region, as well as a social media blast. I also know from working at a pet shop that there is an issue with pet theft, and these pets often end up on websites like Kijiji and Craigslist. So another feature would be to add facial/nose recognition that quickly scans through pet listing on all platforms.
Currently, pet owners that do not have a tracking device, have to contact each database, vet, and shelter separately. They also have to send a message across different social media platforms one at a time, which takes an enormous amount of time and effort, especially when they are stressed and full of anxiety.
I want this app to be a one stop shop for lost pet owners!
Another next step (kind of a pivot) would be to track the pet's activities and vitals. A kind of Fitbit for cats and dogs. Know when they sleep, know when run, check for any irregularities that could be potential health concerns. This would turn the app from a "one use app" to an app that can be used on the daily.
I have much more to say about how the app/device could evolve in the future, so don't hesitate to ask! For example, at one point I was thinking instead of using a GPS tracker that hooked onto the collar (like all others), it would be a GPS patch that could charge using the pet's own body heat. You would never have to worry about charging it or the collar falling off. But, wherever it lay on the body (most likely the top because of GPS signals, the pet would essentially be bald in that area. Soooooo, I scratched that. But I'm always researching and ideating!
So many ideas. So little time.