Helping pet owners take better care of their pets using smart technology
Pets come with a lot of work, and keeping track of everything can be hard.
Pets are cute, but they come with a lot of work. Every furry friend has their own necessities, and it can be hard for an owner to keep track of everything. There's the fear of losing them, or not knowing when their pet is in danger. Other owners don't know if the change in diet they've implemented is working. Some have multiple pets with varying needs.
A DESIGN CHALLENGE EMERGED...
How might we keep pet owners informed of their pet's health, while providing insights that make ownership easier?
Pluto is an easy to use smart device that can be attached to collars for pets of varying sizes, ages, species, and health concerns. Along with the companion app, the device enables owners to monitor their pet's health, behaviour, activity, and location, learn more about them, and improve their health with informed decisions. It is embedded with bluetooth, pulse oximeters, temperature sensors, and accelerometers, to provide health insights to owners on a daily basis.
Users can also add a dash of personal flair, with different colours and engraving. This enables pet owners to visually distinguish which Pluto is assigned to which pet, if they have more than one. Owners can also use engraving to put contact information, in the chance that their pet gets lost and the Pluto is out of battery.
In our team of 4, we all conducted research, ideation, and implementation. As we had multiple responsibilities to fill, I took a leading role in device ideation, and the health feature within the companion application.
To get a better understanding of what was needed, we talked with pet owners, and did a competitive analysis to become educated on similar products on the market, finding pain points that each device addressed. Afterwards, we created a PACT analysis that gave us better insight on what pet owners want, need, and how we can approach improving their ownership experience. Then, we created user personas that we could reference throughout the design process.
After this research we asked important questions that would guide us to creating a user focused and effective product:
How might we build a device that is simple, reliable, and easy to use?
How do we help pet owners better manage and understand their pet(s)?
How might we use Pluto to alert owners of concerning behaviour?
We began to develop how we believe our product would function and look to address what our target audience needs and wants. After several rounds of iterations, with constant feedback from one another and pet owners, we came upon our final sketches, device user flow, and models. I proceeded to design, build, and render the final 3D product.
VISUAL DESIGN SYSTEM
Since we were all tasked with different parts of the app, we created a visual design system to ensure everything would have a sense of unity. We decided that our brand would be fun but professional, like a trustworthy companion.
Using a legible and rounded typeface enabled us to project a friendly feeling. This was also reflected in our icons, where we utilized rounded corners where we could. We also chose against solid black, and instead for a softer version. With this system, we were able to successfully seem professional and friendly.
Based on our research thus far, we discussed key features. This is when we removed a 'contact a vet' feature, as we deemed it secondary. We all sketched our ideas for each section of the app, then split responsibilities, and I designed the Health portion of the app. With feedback from one another and pet owners, we developed the final app after a series of sketches, user flows, and reiterations.
How it works
A walkthrough of using Pluto
Pluto's companion app is designed to enable owners to get an overall view of their pet's health. By tracking different aspects of their well-being, it allows Pluto to notify pet owners when abnormalities occur. Reports can also be downloaded to share with veterinarians.
6 Main Userflows
Always know where a pet is
Easily locate where a fur friend is, with the ability to set safe zones. When a pet is outside of a safe zone, or too far from the user's current location, Pluto will notify them.
Add new pets & download reports
Adding a new pet to the mix is easily accessible in the settings, where users can also download reports that summarize key health insights to share with veterinarians.
We designed a website users can reference to quickly learn about Pluto.
This project would not have been possible without the collaboration within my team. With each of us having different strengths, we were able to create a product that would have been difficult to achieve alone. I am extremely grateful to be able to experience the group dynamic behind Pluto, and recognize that by working together we were able to push Pluto from a good idea to a great product, within our given timeframe.
This project taught me a lot, I strengthened my communication skills, and learned that every design choice matters. We always questioned why we were putting functions in, and why we were taking them out. This back and forth allowed us to create something concise and truly user centered.
The project is not without faults, but I am satisfied with the result of our work, and the skills sharpened and honed during the process.
Collaboration yields great results. By combining the strengths of many, you can create a more enticing product.