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Expect Even More Pet Tech at CES 2017

We’re in the opening stages of a veritable gold rush in pet tech.
Image: Nicholas Deleon/Motherboard

Speaking at CES to Betsy Fore, the founder and CEO of pet wearable company Wondermento, one thing becomes crystal clear to me: not only is "pet tech" here to stay, but it's poised to become a major category in the next year.

"The 'pet tech' space is still small [compared to human wearables like Fitbit], but we're already talking about having convention floor space dedicated to it next year," Fore told me on Thursday afternoon. "There's so many of us, so why not show the world that 'pet tech' is a rising force that's worth shouting about?"

Fore's company creates the WonderWoof (pictured above), a $100 wearable device for dogs that, similar to a Fitbit or Jawbone for humans, tracks and analyzes their physical activity. (A version designed for cats is also in development for release later this year.) A companion mobile app lets dog owners ensure that their dogs have met their daily exercise goals and gently reminds them when they should throw the ball around with Fido.

The goal of all this canine data tracking and analysis isn't merely to be a fun diversion for pet owners, Fore says, but is instead a way for owners to help extend the healthy lifespan of their pooch so they "can be happier together, which is why I started the company in the first place."

Wondermento is hardly the only "pet tech" company around today, with others like FitBark and Whistle making names for themselves with devices that track dogs' activity levels and provide GPS-based location tracking. Austria-based Tractive, also on the CES show floor this year, similarly provides GPS-based tracking for pets. Its latest device, the upcoming Tractive 2 (which should begin shipping before the end of March), adds a temperature alarm that warns owners via a mobile app when the dog's environment becomes too hot.

The presence of companies like Wondermento and Tractive this year reminds me of CESes of years past, when wearables—for humans, that is— were still a novel and slightly strange sight: Why would you ever want to know how many steps you've taken in a day, or how many flights of stairs you've climbed? Several billion dollars in sales later, it's hard to argue that wearables for humans aren't as mainstream as anything else you'd find at CES. Dog wearables and other pet-friendly devices are simply the next logical step in the game.