Fitbit design products and services to help people improve their health and wellness. The company is dedicated to using new technologies to make people more aware of their everyday activities and motivate them towards leading healthier lives through small behavior changes. By providing detailed information about their everyday behaviors, Fitbit helps consumers make small changes in habits in order to be more active, eat healthier, and get enough sleep. Fitbit currently makes wireless activity trackers, sleep trackers, web and mobile applications, and a WiFi enable weight scale. 

Fitbit is one of several pioneering companies engaged in the self-tracking, quantified self movement. Much of the work in self-tracking has been applied to humans, however it is possible for the same technology to be equally or even more beneficial to pets and pet owners. This project set out to design a way to apply technology and the quantified health concept to pet care for Fitbit.


The frameworks I explored revolved around each of the activities, objects and users involved in caring for a dog on a daily basis. I set out to explore a ‘day in the life’ for a busy young dog-owning professional/couple to understand whether my existing assumptions were accurate and what new information I could learn. I was interested in identifying emotions (guilt, relief, sadness, excitement) that a dog owner might feel during the day in relation to his/her pet.

Research Questions

  1. What does the term “healthy” for a dog mean to a dog owner?
  2. What are the emotional consequences of being a busy/working dog owner?
  3. What are busy working couples frames of dog ownership/responsibilities during the week?

These research questions helped to set the context for 5 in-depth interviews conducted with busy dog owners to determine their needs. From these discussions I captured key anecdotes which formed the basis for the solution:

“…sometimes I wonder about whether she’s getting enough activity, or if she’s just sitting at a bench with the walker…”

“…I just want her to be getting the exercise she needs and make sure that she’s having fun..”

             “…There’s just something that’s always in the back of my mind, wondering if she’s being looked
after in the way that I would want to look after her...”


A key observation from our user research was that busy dog owners still worry about their dog, despite leaving them in trusted hands while they’re away. This lead to the insight that dog owners want their dog to be as busy as they are to reduce their guilt for leaving the dog. The following needs assessment hierarchy breaks out each of the common, context, activity and qualifier needs identified from the research.   


COMMON                                                CONTEXT                                                    ACTIVITY                                           QUALIFIER
Feel loved                                               To take care of themselves                          Keep dog happy/healthy                    Be informed about health of dog
Feel good about themselves                    Feel that they are 'good' owners                 Feel connected to the dog                 Spend time with the dog 
Control interactions with one's pet          Lead rather than follow dog on walks         Keep dog at the owner's side            Limit dog's pulling ability
Feel reassured                                         Ensure dog's needs are met                        Check on dog's activity status            Receive updates about the dog


During the interviews of busy people with their dogs, the word “guilt” came up frequently as the emotion felt when the owner could not spend time with the dog, either due to work schedules, travel etc. The nugget identified from these interviews was that knowing what the dog did during the day helps a busy owner reduce feelings of guilt for not being with the dog. Potential insights from this nugget were that dog owners feel guilty because they feel responsible for the health and happiness of the dog. Additionally, knowing what the dog did and where the dog spent the day helped them feel closer and more connected to the dog. Finally, seeing images or hearing stores that indicate the dog seemed happy during the owner’s absence in turn gave the owner a sense of joy and turned the feelings of guilt into feelings of pride and happiness.

The insight that feelings of guilt can be reversed if the owner is reassured of the dog’s wellbeing was important to the project because it highlighted that Fitbit may be able to address a need for busy professionals to monitor the activities of their dogs when they are absent. Knowing whether the dog was participating in healthy activities might improve the owner’s feelings of being a responsible pet parent and help ensure that the dog gets adequate exercise during the day.




The user research informed the solution to develop a prototype consisting of a smart sensor collar and a supporting mobile platform to monitor a dog's activity and health. A visual representation of the dog’s physical activity (based off of heart rate monitor data) and goal progress is displayed on the app. A specially designed collar tracks the dog’s heartbeat through sensors embedded on the inside of the collar and data from the heart rate sensor syncs wirelessly to the owner's phone. A dog owner can track and monitor the dog's physical activity using Fitbeat alongside his or her own health tracking statistics provided by Fitbit.





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