Design:

LumiPet is designed to be a luminescent collar to help keep your pet visible and safe in dark environments.

I came up with this idea after passing by so many “lost pet” signs and remembering and old friend whose kitten was sadly run over when he ran away at night. While driving around at night, I often get frustrated with people who walk into the street, at a crosswalk or not without any sort of lights or even reflectors on their bodies to make them visible to cars in the dark. So, I came up with LumiPet.

LumiPet concept sketch

With Lumiet, you can set a home perimeter and when your pet leaves the perimeter, LumiPet will start to glow. This allows you to go on walks safely and stay visible to cars while crossing the street.

The real benefit of LumiPet comes into play if your pet wanders off on their own and gets lost. Since LumiPet activates automatically when your pet leaves the house perimeter, it’ll make them much easier to spot when looking for a lost pet. It also makes it easy for friends or neighbors to identify your pet if they find them. Most importantly, when your pet goes on walks with you, the likelihood of getting in a car accident is greatly reduced because you can spot cars and you’re walking with your pet. However if your pet wanders off on its own, they’re much smaller, lower to the ground, and unaware of the dangers of crossing the street. LumiPet will ensure your pet is visible to cars and help prevent accidents.

Prototype:

To build this prototype, I needed a model pet, who I cast as my cat Bean. Since this was a low-fidelity prototype, I decided to just use extra fabric I had in my closet and a simple batter, LED system to create the light.

Materials

First, I measured Bean’s neck to see how long the collar needed to be to both be comfortable and snug enough so he can’t pull it off himself. I then cut the fabric and started planning the wiring for my LED light.

Although this was a low-fidelity prototype, I still wanted it to look well-done with no visible seams. To do this, I planned to sew the collar and then pull it inside out to hide the seams. I had to brainstorm how I would be able to pull this prototype inside out because the width was so short that I wouldn’t be able to reach through it with my fingers. I decided to tie a piece of twine through one side and sew it into the collar. At the end of my sewing process, I will theoretically be able to pull the twine and have it pull one end through the other.

LumiPet sewn inside out

This actually ended up posing a problem when I tried to execute it in the end. I successfully pulled about half of the collar through when it got caught on the LED wiring. This speed bump took about 30 minutes to resolve. I had to do a combination of pulling the twine, pushing the LED, all while trying to keep the LED’s conductive thread in place. This was especially difficult because the conductive thread was not incredibly flexible and as a result didn’t like to stay in the knot I had tied it to on the LED wire.

LED getting caught

After finally pulling it through, I sewed a button onto each end of the collar and a button onto each side of the battery as well. This allowed me to either prototype LumiPet without the light on (by removing the battery), or connecting the battery to the buttons and activating the light.Then, I had my finished Lumi-pet. The light I used is not very accurate to the type of glow strip I would actually use in the finished product but it gave a good idea of the concept.

Analysis:

After doing some light testing on my user Bean, I determined that this would be best for pets who are already used to collars because he kept trying to chew it off, although I’m sure that he would eventually get used to it. The light didn’t seem to bother him even in the dark but I would like to do more testing on other cats and dogs to see if it impacts their perception.

If I were to make this prototype again, I would probably use a thicker material thats more similar to a collar because the thin t-shirt material wasn’t strong enough to really hold the battery in place, the battery drooped a bit when Bean walked around. I would also try to sew the battery into the collar itself so it’s hidden and looks more refined.

Moving forward, I would like build a higher-fidelity prototype using glow strips similar to this one:

Image from BSEEN LED Armband

It offers a glow rather than a single point of light so it would be both less irritating to the pet and have a larger surface area of light for drivers and others to see your pet at night.