Posted on 16th June, 2015: It could very well be the first of its kind in India. Providing a much-needed service for those looking to keep their pets secure. Hundreds of pets are lost across Indian cities every week, and as 24-year-old designer Ramakrishna Rao says, “unlike in other countries, India doesn’t have a well-planned or working product for tracking lost pets other than posts on social network websites.”
Thanks to the Chennai-based product designer-turned-artist and inventor, pet parents can now snap on the Q Collar Smart Buckle, and make all the necessary information about their pet handily available. In case your pet ever gets lost, all the person who finds him/her has to do is scan the code on the buckle with a smartphone and they will get your contact details, your pet’s name, breed, medical and allergy information, all on their phone.
“Q collar is based on QR code platform which can be read by any smart phone, even the app needed to scan it is available for free download in both Google play store and Apple app store,” explains Rao, over email, “It is a stainless steel, hand-engraved buckle that can be attached to the collar your pet already has. Unlike the sticker type, which would tear off if exposed to water or could be scratched off easily, stainless steel is rust proof. The buckle can’t be removed or torn off unless the collar itself is removed. The QR code stores all the vital information that would be needed by the finder of your pet to be able to trace you. The buckle would have the name of your pet engraved alongside the code, serving as a name tag for your pet.”
He’s even thought of the way around in case the person who finds your pet doesn’t have a smartphone. “Even if the code can’t be scanned, the back of the buckle would have an email address for Q collar. All the person has to do is email the pet’s name and get the information from Q collar. If for some reason you’re not able to attend the call of the finder and he/she has to house your pet with them, they would have the information of the dietary needs and allergy information of your pet. Priced at Rs 700, the product is already available, by order, on Facebook. Or you can send me a message and I can process the order. I make them by order to keep costs down,” says Rao.
Inspiration comes from good intentions
Rao’s inspiration for developing the smart buckle comes from being a good Samaritan. “When I first saw a helpless Scottish Terrier lost in the city, I tried asking around but failed to get any proper response. He seemed to have been lost for a couple of weeks, if not months. I searched for a week nonstop and by god’s grace, I found his parents,” he shares, “they lived some 30 kms away from the area I found him in. I didn’t think too much of it then, but as months passed, I happened to see more and more pets getting lost especially during Diwali and New Year’s. And I came across countless posts on Facebook for missing pets. Then I decided to invent something to help these poor fellows. The one common factor that I saw from the Scottish Terrier to each pet lost in the city was that they all still had their collars around their necks, worn out but still intact. That’s where I got the idea to invent a buckle.” He’s a pet parent himself, so he understands the pain of losing your best friend.
But it wasn’t as simple as he makes it sound. “I started experimenting with different methods over a period of 8 months and the main challenge I faced was finding the right way for storing the information needed to trace the pet parent. Then one day I got the idea of using a simple QR code to store the data as almost everyone has a smart phone these days. It was not possible to use the pendent type attachments, which are used in other countries, because unlike countries like the US and Europe where if a pet was lost and had an identifying collar they are bound to be found by the pound. But here they are unlikely to be spotted by someone willing to spend the time to trace the owner. Pets end up spending a lot of time on the street. In this time they are bound to be involved in fights with strays and crawl into tight places because of being scared. All this would just pull the pendent type attachment right off.”
“The response has been overwhelming,” beams an excited Rao, “I was surprised to see the kind of response I got on the very first day of the launch. Almost everyone wanted one! I got orders from places I have never even heard of before, from remote parts of India. The kind of appreciation I have received from fellow pet parents is something I simply can’t describe with words.”
This response, fortunately for pet parents, has bolstered Rao’s confidence. “My future plans are to make the Q collar a house hold name,” he says, “I would like to see it as a bench mark and to drastically decrease the number of lost pets. Apart from the Q collar, I plan to design more such pet products that would benefit pets and their parents. Today there is a lot of bling and glam as pet products but not products that ensure the safety and health of the pet. I’m currently working on a wheel chair for pets who have lost their hind legs. I have a lot of such product ideas in mind. I plan to keep the price of each and every product low so that it is accessible for all pet parents.”
For more on the Q Collar, visit the Facebook page.