Out of the huge variety of Internet of Things devices available on the market, activity and ﬁtness trackers are among themost popular. Such devices help usmonitor our daily activities, giv-ing us insight into how many stepswe have taken, how many calorieswe have burned, how well we haveslept, and more, generating action-able recommendations we can useto improve our lives. The numberof available devices and, consequently, of their usershas grown signiﬁcantly over the last decade. This ismainly due to the great promise these devices hold forincreasing physical activity, leading to healthier life-styles. Although the use of such devices in clinical set-tings remains quite modest because of concerns relatedto accuracy and reliability, there is some evidence supporting their efficacy, such as studies showing the potential of activity trackers to increase phys-ical activity.
The billion-dollar pet industry is catching up with the hype and getting involved in the wearables market. The global pet wearables market is expected to grow at a com-pound annual growth rate of 13.6 % before 2025 , with exponentially growing demand from Asian countries after initial popularity in the West. Canine activity and ﬁtness trackers, such as FitBark, PetPace, and Whistle, constitute the typical wearables on the market; these devices use diﬀerent sensors, such as accelerometers, GPS, Digital Object Identiﬁer and vitality sensors, to measure the activity and sleep patterns of pets. Although there is a growing body of research on the challenges and opportunities of human wearables and users’ perceptions of them, muchless is known about those topics for pet wearables. In the current study, we aimed to understand how quantiﬁed technologies aﬀect the human–animal bond and the life styles of owners and pets by studying the perceptions of users of a widely available and popular commercial canine activity tracker. We focused on the following research questions:
. Why and how are commercialcanine activity trackers used bypet owners?
. What eﬀect, if any, does their use have on the life styles of pets and their owners?
. What aspects of commercial canine activity trackers are perceived as important by pet owners?
The human–animal bond refers to a mutually beneﬁcial relationship between people and animals that contributes to the health and well-being of both. There is evidence that contact with animals can inﬂuence psychological and physiological parameters of human health,for example, through animal-assisted therapy. Human bonding with dogs,in particular, is the strongest and most well-studied human–animal bond. Our history with dogs goes back more than 2000 years, and the title of “man’s best friend” is well deserved given the contribution that dogs made to early human society. There is evidence that pet ownership can contribute to human health and feelings of happiness by increasing physical activity. A critical review of the literature similarly showed that “dog ownership produces considerable health beneﬁt and provides an important form of social support that encourages dog owners to walk.” provided further support that pet ownership promotes physical activity and contributes to weight control.Canine activity trackers mediate this human–dog bond and have the potential to impact the life styles of dogs and their owners in several ways,including increasing physical activity and aﬀecting the level of caregiving, thereby improving the quality of attachment between human and dog.
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