Open Stream Inc, a Japan-based system integrator, developed an IoT service that estimates the location of a lost cat with a smartphone.
The company demonstrated the service, "Nekomoni," at Ceatec Japan 2016, which took place from Oct 4 to 7, 2016. It enables to search for a cat wearing a collar equipped with a beacon from a distance of up to 50m by using a smartphone.
This time, Open Stream developed a technology to estimate the location of a cat with only one smartphone and submitted an application for a patent. In general, smartphones receive only identification information and signal intensity from a beacon, enabling to estimate only the distance from the beacon. Therefore, to estimate the location of a subject wearing a beacon, multiple smartphones are usually used to receive distance information at various locations.
On the other hand, the user of Nekomoni moves around while receiving beacon signals to estimate the location of the cat at multiple points and output the probability distribution of the location of the cat. Also, a special smartphone application is used to display the estimated location of the cat and instructions about how to walk around to increase estimation accuracy.
There have already been GPS-enabled collars used to find lost pets, but they are often too heavy for pets and consume a large amount of electricity. Nekomoni is equipped with a beacon supporting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to realize a small size, light weight and long battery life. It operates for about a year without replacing the battery.
Open Stream is currently developing a function that enables to share data received by the smartphones of other Nekomoni users on a cloud server when a cat is 50m or more away from its owner's smartphone. Also, the company plans to add "community functions" such as a function to share the name of a strange cat passing by the user.
Open Stream aims to commercialize the service by the spring of 2017, planning to improve the accuracy of location estimation, develop measures to deal with moving cats and work on privacy protection measures for sharing information.