We're a nation of pet lovers; an estimated 46% of UK households have a pet, and the UK pet population stands at around 58 million animals. Fish, dogs and cats are the most commonly owned creatures, but more unusual pets like slow lorises, pygmy hedgehogs and miniature pigs are crawling, burrowing and walking their way into the nation's homes.
Whether they own a common animal or a more exotic one, pet owners can get advice on looking after their pet from their local pet store or vet. However a budding computer programmer from Irthlingborough has been working on an app which will one day put pet care advice in pet owners' hands.
Calum Patton, a student at Huxlow Science College, has been awarded a Nuffield Research Placement which offers sixth formers the chance to work on university research projects during the summer. The computer programmer has been working with the University of Northampton and Moulton College on a pet care app to assist potential owners. The project – organised in partnership with the Pet Industry Federation - has required Calum to design an app which tests users’ knowledge on caring for a variety of pets, in a fun and simple quiz format. Users of the app answer a series of multiple choice questions regarding their chosen animals, on various pet care topics including feeding, exercise, habitat and personality. While keeping score, the app offers advice on each topic, and each type of animal.
Calum's work has been ably supervised by the University of Northampton’s Scott Turner and Wanda McCormick at Moulton College.
Dr Wanda McCormick, Research and Knowledge Transfer Coordinator, explained: “Working with Calum and Scott Turner at the University has allowed us to look at new ways of integrating technology into the pet industry to benefit animals and owners alike and we are looking forward to developing the project further.”
Calum said: “The placement has been excellent as I have been able to design and test the application, figure out problems and take into account what a customer would expect from the app.”