Wearable technology is no longer just for humans. Fitness trackers for dogs and cats like SUGA’s Petble, are becoming increasingly popular, especially among pet owners in Hong Kong.
Ava Lui, an owner of three cats, bought a Petble smart tag for each one. Siu Wong, her 7-year-old Exotic Shorthair is the heaviest, which is why Lui is watching what he eats.
“(My) cats are super picky when it comes to food. So when I change the type of food, I know how many calories they take in. Then I’ll know whether my cat is too fat or too skinny,” she said.
With all the data synced from the smart tag to an app on her phone, she’s able to track Siu Wong’s activity levels, food and water consumption, as well as his sleeping habits.
The Petble comes at a price of nearly 900 Hong Kong dollars (US$115). But for the 33-year-old IT specialist, spoiling her cats is worth it.
“I just always wish that they would never get sick, that they don’t ever get hurt. The less I take them to see vets the more time I can spend playing with them. That would be the best,” Lui said.
Once banned by Communist leader Mao Zedong as a bourgeois pastime, having a pet has now become a symbol of financial success in China, where according to Euromonitor consultant group the pet product sector—including health care—is expected to grow 5 percent annually to $1.2 billion in 2019.
And it’s because of China’s growing affluence that Hong Kong manufacturer SUGA has launched its own pet health care business, which includes products like Petble that hit the shelves last August.
“Back in the day, Chinese pet owners used to just feed their pets leftovers, now they’re more conscious about the pet’s health—they’re buying proper pet feed. We’ve noticed this change so we’re now producing goods aimed toward those very health conscious Chinese consumers,” said SUGA Chairman Ng Chi Ho.
Ng said there’s a huge demand for technology looking after the health of pets. They even have a smart bowl that measures the amount of food and its nutritional value. Currently they’re working on developing technology to detect and record pets’ emotional states.
The global market for wearable technology for pets is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2024, from an estimated US$1.0 billion at the end of 2016, according to Transparency Market Research.