Connectivity was an opportunity to design a 21st-century solution to a centuries-old problem.
Victor saw a need in the consumer and commercial markets for a smarter way to outsmart rodents.
With its parent company, Woodstream™, Victor® is the world’s largest maker of rodent-control traps. The company came to Bresslergroup with ambitious goals for connectivity, ease of use, efficacy, battery life, and aesthetics — all at an attainable price point. We helped them realize these goals, and with them the potential of the Internet of Things.
Bresslergroup’s team of electrical and mechanical engineers and interaction and industrial designers worked closely with Victor to develop integrated, connected consumer and commercial solutions.
From unboxing, to trap and app use, rodent disposal, battery replacement, and Web-based tools for Victor’s customer service team to assist users, the Smart-Kill™ and VLINK™ systems each provide a seamless user experience underscored by the best technology fit for each market’s specific needs.
The Smart-Kill system launched with two physical products (mouse and rat trap), two mobile apps (iOS and Android), and an internal Victor trap management portal. It’s designed to scale — the app can easily serve as a hub for managing multiple traps. The traps and apps work in concert to push alerts to users’ phones and notify them of catches to be promptly emptied. The app keeps track of kills over each trap’s lifetime and monitors battery life and signal strength.
The traps’ innovative design allows for easy disposal and cleaning as well as safe use. The self-contained, removable kill chamber with access door enables a “no see, no touch” experience — a user powers off the trap, removes the kill chamber, opens the lid, and empties the trap into the trash. If a user forgets to power it off, a built-in safety switch automatically deactivates the trap when opened.
Smart-Kill™ and VLINK™ provide a seamless user experience underscored by the best technology fit for each market’s needs.
Because the chamber isn’t connected to electronics, it’s easier to clean. A user can rinse the chamber, including any food left in the bait cup, dry completely, and reset. The immediate notification of a kill paired with the easy ability to clean are what ultimately make the product reusable. Victor had found during its research that users were frequently discarding of traps deemed too messy to save.
With its oblong shape and well-considered materials, finishes, and texture, the trap’s design elements add up to a sleek, modern form that sits discreetly beneath couches or cabinets. Its interaction area has a premium, high-tech look and feel that differentiates it from more utilitarian competitors. A glowing Victor logo shines through a high-gloss, clear lens and is framed by a matching silver bezel. The Wi-Fi button and logo light up to provide feedback during connection. These visual details communicate the message that this product is more reliable and sophisticated than your average mousetrap.
The consumer iOS and Android apps incorporate useful content, including a timeline for significant actions (low battery, kill) and tips for where to place the trap and how to properly bait it. These tips, illustrated with animations, were informed by a Victor animal behavior expert. The apps’ abstract iconography softens what can be a harsh experience.
After choosing Wi-Fi for its ubiquity, Bresslergroup’s team worked to ensure compatibility with the vast majority of consumer Wi-Fi standards and security protocols — and with newer releases of iOS and Android. The Wi-Fi provisioning process was benchmarked with a number of connected products to ensure Smart-Kill would be best in class.
Perhaps the greatest single challenge and innovation in this product is the electronics design. Bresslergroup’s engineering team optimized battery life by designing the high-voltage circuit to perform to specification even with diminishing battery voltages. This new method for maintaining high-voltage output is low-cost, provides good battery life, and was novel to the extent that Victor filed for a utility patent on the technology.
Using a low power wide area network (LPWAN) and Comcast’s MachineQ™ IoT platform, VLINK, Victor’s commercial trap, allows building supervisors or pest-control operators to remotely monitor rodent activity and kills. These commercial IoT traps are designed to communicate through tough construction materials like concrete and steel, and each hub covers up to 100,000 square feet of commercial space.
This IoT solution’s immediate return on investment is the savings on labor it provides. With a mesh of wirelessly connected traps, there’s no need for technicians to physically check every trap in a warehouse, supermarket, office building, school, or restaurant.
A secondary benefit is averting the contamination, damage, and bad publicity that rodents bring to a business. Many commercial pest traps are checked only periodically, but VLINK connected traps are easily monitored 24/7, providing data to track surges in mouse and rat activity.