A product to monitor and reduce dog anxiety
The goal of this project was to identify an unmet user need through primary and secondary research; develop functional and form prototypes to validate the need and to develop a business model.
Team members : Aaron McDaniel, Beth Herlin, Xinwei Yan, Gary Cheng, Neel Kishan, Peeyush Goyal
User experience research lead:
Developed interview guides and conducted interviews; tested concepts through observation studies; assisted in refining the concept
Assisted in generating concepts, developing functional and form prototypes and in determining the cost to manufacture the final product
Identifying an opportunity area
Analyzed current social, economic and technological trends; sought inspiration from existing products and generated 107 opportunity areas
Filtered the 107 opportunity areas systematically to identify the final opportunity area
Opportunity area identified : “Enable pet owners to engage with their pet remotely”
Refining the opportunity area
Conducted interviews and learned that owners worry about their pet’s anxiety while they are away
Conducted secondary research and learned that dogs are more likely than cats to face anxiety issues
Analyzed values offered by competing products dealing with dog anxiety issues
Performed a 6-3-5 brainstorming exercise to generate ideas for monitoring anxiety and reducing anxiety, followed by an affinity diagramming wherein each team member voted on the ideas generated
Final concept for monitoring anxiety
Final concepts for reducing anxiety
Sought user feedback on these concepts
Developed a Pugh matrix to compare these concepts with competing products using a variety of criteria for the dog, owner and our company stakeholder
Assembled a functional prototype of the cuddle toy
Based on user feedback and the Pugh matrix, we assembled a functional prototype of the cuddle toy for concept testing. The cuddle toy is a plush toy that simulates the comfort of a companion by an audible heartbeat, dispenses a calming pheromone and has a warming component.
Paid home visits to three participants and observed their dogs as they engaged with the prototype.
Objective : To understand the cuddle toy’s effectiveness in alleviating anxiety
Key findings : The warmer deters dogs; the dogs view the product as a play mechanism rather than a mechanism for rest
Shifted focus to the smart bed
Based on our findings, we refined the concept and shifted our focus to the smart bed, which comprises of a dog bed, a speaker for an audible heartbeat and a dog calming pheromone. I assisted in engineering a housing in the dog bed for the speaker and pheromone.
Final product concept
Connects dog owner with dog by providing actionable insights on dog’s anxiety level and providing a remote mechanism to control the anxiety reducer
Anxiety reducer : Smart bed
Directly alleviates anxiety by dispensing a dog calming pheromone, playing a heartbeat or dog calming music.
Anxiety monitor : Collar
Measures dog’s anxiety through heart rate, vocalization (barking) and activity level
How it works
The device on the anxiety reducer (collar) contains a tri axis accelerometer (to measure activity level), a pulsometer (to measure heart rate), microphone (to measure vocalization) and an RFID tag (to measure proximity to bed).
The anxiety reducer (bed) has an ABS housing (shown above) in its rim which contains a mechanism to spray pheromone onto a filter pad. A fan intakes the pheromone safely through the mesh cover to the bed’s interior. The speaker plays the heartbeat and dog calming music.
Realizing the product
Assisted in analyzing the product’s cost
Final recommendation – family of products
Our final recommendation to the client, Jarden was to develop a family of products that alleviate dog anxiety – all connect to the owner through a mobile application and give realtime access to dog’s anxiety levels through the anxiety monitor (the collar colored blue in the picture above). The reason for this being that dogs, like humans have different personalities. Anxiety manifestation of, and treatment for these dogs are therefore diverse.