Back off rodents. I bought a connected mousetrap! – Stacey on IoT

I’ve often complained to Stacey that we haven’t seen many truly new connected devices in a while. So I recently did some digging to see what new products I might have overlooked. And I found one. The Victor Smart-Kill Electronic Mousetrap. One tap in the Victor online store and a $39.95 investment got me one, and although it’s a niche device, I’m glad it bought it. It notifies my phone when there’s a mouse in the trap, so I don’t have to make a daily trek or two to the basement. However, I see opportunities for a better product if there’s ever a version two.

Unlike a standard mechanical, spring-loaded mousetrap, Victor’s modern mouse trap has two metal contact plates near the bait trap. When a mouse enters the trap and touches both plates, it’s bye-bye mousey! Four AA batteries deliver an electronic shock, which, while isn’t pleasant, is a more humane way to end a mouse’s life. Thanks to an integrated Wi-Fi radio (2.4 GHz only), the Victor app notifies your phone so you can dispose of the mouse.

To do make all this work in a way that’s simple and safe for humans, the trap is made of two plastic segments. One houses the batteries and wireless radio. The other is a roughly seven-inch “chute” with the metal plates and bait area at one end.

As a mouse enters this chute, there are angled, plastic walls to keep the rodent from easily backing out. From a safety perspective, there’s a switch to enable the zapping power only when the two case parts are assembled together.

Image courtesy Victor

Of course, I bypassed that for testing, which you shouldn’t do. Since I couldn’t guarantee that I’d catch a mouse in the few days that I’ve had the product, I wanted to at least measure the current applied to a mouse. Using a multimeter on both metal plates, I measured a peak current of 135 millivolts, which I assume is enough to give a mouse the electric chair.

I covered my network name so the mice can’t hack it

The setup process for Victor’s smart phone app was easy as well. If you’ve set up an Echo Dot, you can set up this electronic mouse trap. Simply holding down the trap’s Wi-Fi button begins the process by creating a peer-to-peer wireless network.

On my phone, I changed to the trap’s local network and then chose my Wi-Fi network in the app. Done. The app shows a full history of any mouse incursions and… sadly… the number of “kills” atop the history.

I understand that, but when I open the app, I feel like I’m looking at an online first-person shooter video game. “Whoa, I have seven kills!” Maybe Victor can change the word “kills” to “dearly departed” or just “mice”?

This is effectively a standalone smart home product, meaning you can’t have your digital assistant shout out “GOT ONE!” when the trap is tripped. There’s no way to integrate the trap with any platform or automations. I was hoping I could have my smart speakers fire up the chorus to Queen’s “We will rock you”, but no dice. Perhaps that comes in the future.

That’s actually not the suggestion I had in mind when I said earlier that I see opportunities for improvement, though. I’m concerned about the battery life of four AA batteries in a Wi-Fi device. I don’t want to run through batteries every month. Of course, this will be dependent on how many mice enter my Hotel of Doom, as the shocks will hit the batteries over time. Victor says a fresh set of batteries will last for up to 100 kills. (Eeek, there’s that word again.)

My point is, this is a perfect device to use a much lower-powered radio technology in a future product. I’m thinking Thread, and not just for the power efficiency, but also for the mesh network capabilities Thread brings.

Since every Thread device can connect to other Thread devices, you can get much more coverage between devices. One trap on my Wi-Fi network is fine but what if I have to deploy traps in multiple locations that might not have a good Wi-Fi signal? Thread would handle that much better. Victor does make a LoRaWAN mousetrap, for larger areas.

Aside from that suggestion and concern about replacing batteries, I like this product. Even though it hasn’t trapped any mice yet, I’m confident it will. Reading reviews suggests this is an effective product. I know we have mice thanks to the little “presents” they leave us on the basement floor. Since I appreciate those so much, it’s time to return the gesture with a present of my own: A connected mousetrap.

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