Technological development as a source of innovation

What have been the major developments in the past few years, and which technology will mature? Are upcoming developments set to become drivers for future innovations?

All good things come to an end

2018 has been the year of our 30th anniversary. We have celebrated that fact with this special 30 years section. In each issue we have looked at important themes that have had an effect on our industry and will continue to do so in the years to come. We have also put the spotlight on companies that have been active in the sector during those 30 years.

This is the final edition of our anniversary year. So in this 30 years section we look at important technological developments. Technology that will mature in the coming years, as well as new developments that present other challenges and opportunities. For we can certainly say that technological developments drive innovation in our industry.

Trackers and tracers

Since the end of the 90s, all kinds of trackers and tracers have come onto the market and become part of everyday life, such as barcodes, QR codes and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

EDI and blockchain

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) came out at the end of the 90s and is mainly used to share big data.
Blockchain stores the data that is shared. Data such as bank statements, property deeds, contracts, or personal messages. It is stored in a distributed system rather than a central location and all transactions and updates are reflected in real time, so it is impossible to falsify data.

The system can be used for pet food too. It can give consumers insight into the origin of ingredients. They can then see whether claims about local sourcing and sustainability are true. Supermarkets already do so for products such as orange juice.

Nanotechnology

We first wrote about nanotechnology ten years ago. Nanotechnology allows you to study and manipulate material at the microscopic nanometre scale. It can be used to improve the quality, application and effectiveness of products in many different industries: food, textiles, computers/ICT, medicine and engineering.

An example of its use in the pet accessory sector is to make bedding water and dirt resistant. The application of nanotechnology seems limitless. Although not yet used in pet food, there are many possibilities with regard to product marking, longer-life packaging and healthcare.

Higg DDM

Application of the Higg Design and Development Module is a relatively new development. Higg DDM can be used during the accessory design stage to calculate the environmental impact of a product. The tool then enables the designer to replace chosen materials with more sustainable options.

This module provides the pet accessory industry with an opportunity as never before to meet sustainability requirements as well as the needs of today’s consumer (see article in January 2018).

Internet of things

We have all heard of the internet of things (IoT). But until now its only application in our sector has been for track and trace products and some basic pet health monitoring.

In the next few years we are going to see a lot more of IoT. Nano-sized chips in all kinds of products will be linked to sensors that measure movement, temperature, location, et cetera. The sensors will also get smaller and smaller.
Smaller chips and smaller sensors use less energy. And energy can increasingly be generated and transferred from heat, solar cells, et cetera. That will enable a smart IoT application to function for a longer period. Mobile devices are now part of everyday life and will be used as hubs for IoT applications, giving the pet owner – and the pet industry – a huge amount of data.

Many smart bowls and feeders, treat dispensers and cameras have already been piloted, and more and more different kinds are being sold. This will be a learning curve for both the industry and the consumer, as these kinds of advanced applications are tried and tested.

Data is the new gold

These examples have one thing in common: data.
For data is not only the key to the future of Google and Amazon, but also to that of the pet industry.
So keep an eye on Nestlé, who are using all kinds of apps to collect data from pet owners and their pets on nutrition, exercise, et cetera. Data is set to become an important asset for product innovation and for predicting the behaviour of consumers and their pets.

Author

Corine van Winden

CEO, GlobalPETS & PETS International
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