Self Powered Emergency Pet Tracker


Activity trackers are widely used by animal lovers around the world. Unfortunately in the best case battery life is only up to 3 weeks. Without daily charging being a requirement, the user may forget to charge the tracker and just as they need it most the battery is likely to be drained. While it is a lot of fun seeing how active your pet has been over time, not being able to find it back when it has run away can cause a lot of unrest. For this reason, Pet Insurance company Trupanion (NASDAQ: TRUP) approached SODAQ as a leader in low power tracking and Kinetron as a leader in kinetic energy harvesting to create a self-powered device that never runs out of battery.

This is how it looks to an average citizen, but professionals at van Oord think about the risks and want to proactively prevent them. The vessel is surrounded by deep level anchors to keep it in place. But what will happen if the anchors break free from their moorings? Then an 8,000-tonne lift installation vessel will start drifting. One may ask: “And what if so?” Apart from creating a huge wave and just drifting on the water surface, it risks damaging the many different cables on the ocean floor. For example, if the Transatlantic Internet cable gets damaged it will lead to a real catastrophe.


Pet Tracker charging.

Key Feature: Idle Mode


Using state of the art low-power tracking and cellular communications, SODAQ has developed a solution that uses less than 14 joules of energy per day while maintaining an intermittent connection with the cellular network. It does this by using eDRX (extended discontinuous receive) functionality that has been recently introduced in release 13 of 3GPP’s cellular IoT standards. An unprecedented communication technology whereby the device modem and the cellular network agree that the device will listen for incoming messages at a set interval of for example 5 minutes. This requires significantly less energy than if the device must transmit data back to the network, and so the network relies on the device to report back to the network when it has lost connectivity so that a new timer can be agreed upon. One aspect of cellular networks that is not commonly known is that SIM cards use energy. Now that electronics are becoming so low-power, their energy consumption is less than a regular SIM card. As a first step, SODAQ’s partner monogoto has been able to provide UICC deactivation (switching off the SIM) during idle mode. However, to save power further the aim is to utilize iSIM functionalities as is done in the Smart Shipping Label project.

Energy Harvesting


Using state of the art low-power tracking and cellular communications, SODAQ has developed a solution that uses less than 14 joules of energy per day while maintaining an intermittent connection with the cellular network. It does this by using eDRX (extended discontinuous receive) functionality that has been recently introduced in release 13 of 3GPP’s cellular IoT standards. An unprecedented communication technology whereby the device modem and the cellular network agree that the device will listen for incoming messages at a set interval of for example 5 minutes. This requires significantly less energy than if the device must transmit data back to the network, and so the network relies on the device to report back to the network when it has lost connectivity so that a new timer can be agreed upon. One aspect of cellular networks that is not commonly known is that SIM cards use energy. Now that electronics are becoming so low-power, their energy consumption is less than a regular SIM card. As a first step, SODAQ’s partner monogoto has been able to provide UICC deactivation (switching off the SIM) during idle mode. However, to save power further the aim is to utilize iSIM functionalities as done in the Smart Shipping Label project.




Activation and Active Tracking


When the owner loses their pet, they can use the app or dashboard (custom development by SODAQ) to trigger the device into active mode. The device will receive this alert at the agreed listening interval and based on the exact command it then receives it will either go into active tracking mode using GPS positioning, WiFi positioning, or both. In all cases, cell towers are also scanned and used for positioning. Again, this will happen at a predetermined interval (default = 30 seconds). From this moment, the owner will be able to find back their pet by seeing the device location in the app. After the pet has been found, the device can be put back to sleep and depending on the duration of active tracking may need to be recharged over USB, so that it has sufficient buffer to sustain idle mode indefinitely.

In this case, under the hood the device is running on a Nordic NRF9160, which provides the processing power, GPS positioning and LTE-M communication within one SIP (system-in-package).
During the project realization our clients (van Oord) found more use cases to test the trackers and are installing them now on the small vessels that do not have AIS transponders on board and that are therefore not displayed on the radars. The main applications within this installation is vessels’ tracking and collision avoidance. Another use case can be effectiveness assessment of the rented equipment. Now the project is in the installation phase and SODAQ will be glad to share its results in future.

Current Stage of Development


A pilot with 50 devices is currently underway, after which the project will scale up. Hopefully by the end of 2021 the first end users will be able to rest assured that they will always be able to find their pet. Trupanion aim to roll out these devices to all their customers in order to help them to never lose their pets again, which is beneficial for the owners and for the company as they currently spend many support hours helping their clients to find their pets.

How can we make IoT work for you?

Our experienced engineers are ready to deliver innovative low power tracking and sensing solutions for your next big operation. Please get in touch using the Get in Touch button on the bottom right, send an email to sales@sodaq.com or give us a call at +31 30 300 0301.

Contact Us


Ollie Smeenk
Product Manager
ollie.smeenk@sodaq.com
+31 35 300 0301

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