The Snif Tag collar based RFID tracking system for pets was dropped as company founders re-purpose the technology into a product that tracks hand washing by health care workers. The product, which originated in the MIT Media Lab’s Physical Language Workshop, launched in late 2005 and was profiled in high profile media including Wired and the New York Times.
Described as “social networking for dogs,” SNIF was a product in search of a market. The collar-leash combo provided information about a pet’s activity level while the owner was not present and its interaction with other dogs wearing the same tracking device. I would suspect that anyone willing to shell out almost $200 for the electronically enabled collar and lead set might not let their pet far out of their sight, rendering this second piece of data redundant. If the pet would get out of sight of the owner, there was no way for the owner to find a lost animal using the SNIF tag; a function that is available through some GPS enabled collars.
The SNIF website is still up with links to its news coverage, but the product ordering and retailer locator functions are no longer providing data on the discontinued product. The inventors mention they may re-introduce the product later with a more robust marketing budget, but I will be surprised if it fulfills the initial hopes for its success.