Update: So, I looked into this a bit further and found that this is likely a fraudulent crowdfunding attempt and thankfully never got off the ground. Karen Zackton is actually Karen Hanover, and was convicted of fraud and detained for an unrelated incident. She has stepped down as CEO of EscapeAlert and has insisted that the project was legitimate and simply ‘delayed.’ Regardless, the site has gone black and there hasn’t been any new news on it. While the idea is definitely a good one, I wouldn’t recommend giving this company your money.
Two of the most common uses of GPS tracking are to keep track of loved ones and to help find lost pets. But GPS pet collars are clunky, expensive and easily lost. Now, a company called Escape Alert is prepping to launch a Kickstarter next week to change that. Through crowdfunding, Escape Alert wants to create an implantable GPS chip to track your furry loved one wherever they may roam.
Unlike microchips commonly implanted in pets, which only provide your information when scanned at clinics and shelters, this microchip actually has a mini GPS chip inside and so it can actually track and relay your pet’s GPS location if they go missing. The current design does not allow for indoor GPS tracking, but if the Kickstarter raises enough funds, then additional features such as indoor tracking will likely be added.
The chip is roughly the size of a grain of rice and will be the first implantable GPS chip of its kind for animals. The coolest thing about this little tracking device is the technology powering it. According to their site, the chip will be powered through a piezoelectric nanogenerator—a device that is able to convert motion into energy—so every time you walk your dog or zip the laser pointer around for your cat, the chip will be recharged. If you want more information on how the nanogenerators work, check out some of the articles on Escape Alert’s website about this cool new technology.
The device is still in the development stage, with more information to be announced during the launch of the Kickstarter. A solid price hasn’t been set (although the estimated retail will be somewhere in the $100 – $200 range), and the there may or may not be subscription fees, depending on how much the Kickstarter raises and how much money is required for development and upkeep of the system. The current estimated shipping date for the project is late 2015, but again, a lot of things currently depend on funding and public response.
Like many other GPS tracking devices, this chip will work in conjunction with your smartphone, and alerts and tracking are all done via cell phone texts which will relate information. There will also be an app to help monitor the GPS chip’s location, but exact details and functionality haven’t been announced.
Research by the National Humane Society and the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy estimates that one in three pets will be lost during their lifetimes–more than 10 million pets each year. Of those, only one in ten are ever found and returned to their owners.
“Together, we have the chance to do something really important. We have the chance to completely put an end to pet theft and make losing our pets a thing of the past,” said Escape Alert founder Karen Zaxton. “By doing so, we can decrease the number of animals in shelters and therefore, the number that is euthanized. And that would be a wonderful legacy.”
When the Kickstarter is launched, I’ll be sure to update this article with the information. But until then, let me know what you think about this device in the comments! And don’t forget to hit up the Escape Alert website for more information or to see about helping support this project.
Update: The Kickstarter never launched, and the website is now no longer operational. I presume the project has been dropped, but I haven’t been able to reach anyone to confirm. If I see any changes, I’ll update the article again.