Tracca UK Ltd case study | GPS tracking for pets
Tracca produces and sells GPS tracking collars for domestic pets and is the brainchild of Managing Director and co-founder Toby Mills.
The company was founded in 2014 with a vision to develop a reliable device that would inform pet owners of the location of their animals whenever they stray from home.
Toby’s idea was to build GPS technology into a product that could be attached to the pet’s collar, and which could then be ‘tracked’ using an app that the company would also supply to the customer.
From the outset, Toby knew he would require advice about how the product could be designed to meet all the requirements for 24 hour use on a live domestic animal. Initially he needed a design which would encompass everything from form and function, to suitable materials to a cost-effective method of manufacture.
The first step to bringing the new device off the drawing board was to bring in a professional product and technology designer who could help develop the product design.
Realising the vision for Tracca
Toby Mills had a clear vision of the job that the new product needed to do, how it would work and what it might look like.
But to turn his ideas into reality he needed a professionally created product design which would then be developed as an early concept prototype model and used for testing.
Toby was referred by prototyping specialists Prototype Projects to Cambridge-based design consultancy Cambridge Design Technology, a company headed by Jon Plumb, who has over 20 years’ experience in product and technology design.
Using a highly consultative and iterative information gathering approach, Jon was able to turn Toby’s ideas for Tracca firstly into a design brief and then translate them into a formal design.
With a new product to be worn by domestic animals which included potentially sensitive GPS tracking technology, there were many angles to take into account in what would eventually become the final product.
For example, the materials used needed to be durable enough to house the GPS technology, yet suitable for producing an aesthetically pleasing finish.
The material would also need to be able to withstand almost constant movement, be moisture resistant and be able to cope with regular small impacts. Above all it was critical for the device to work reliably in almost all conditions and circumstances that a domestic pet might encounter.
Armed with this information, Cambridge Design Technology commenced the design process and after early reviews and iterations arrived at a technically feasible and aesthetically pleasing product design which was ready for early prototype production.
One of the key benefits of working with Cambridge Design Technology for Tracca was the company’s agile and flexible consultative approach.
“As well as knowing the right questions to ask,” says Toby Mills, “Jon Plumb is a great listener. I got the strong feeling from my first meeting with Jon that he not only completely understood our vision for the Tracca product, but that he was also completely bought into us as a business. He believed in what we were trying to do and it felt like he was an integral part of the team from day one”.
Another key benefit of working with Cambridge Design Technology was the close relationship with prototyping specialists Prototype Projects.
“Being able to involve both the design team and the prototyping specialists early on definitely gave us traction right from the start,” continues Toby.
This consultative process, which involved several iterations and a great deal of contact and co-ordination between the product designer and the prototyping bureau, was of key strategic significance, and led to the first Tracca product coming into being less than 12 months after the project started.
Key outcomes for Tracca in its year of product development were the speed with which the Tracca product came of the drawing board and into reality, the smoothness of the project and the fact that with this efficiency, development costs were kept under control.
Ultimately, the sleek looking Tracca device is now a retail success. Hard on the heels of the Tracca Dog product there are now also plans for further and similar products for cats and other domestic animals.
Toby Mills, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Tracca believes that a large part of the early success of the business can be attributed to partnering with the right companies during the product design and development phase.
Toby says of his partnership with Cambridge Design Technology:
“Cambridge Design Technology have not just been any ordinary supplier. They have been a partner in the true sense, committed to realising our vision from day one and bought into the project. Without the input and advice of Jon Plumb I doubt we would have brought Tracca to market as quickly as we did. The fact that our product is so attractive, robust and reliable is in no small part down to Jon’s skills and experience as a product and technology designer.”
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