There’s technology for whole families, for moms and dads, for single, young folks, and even for kids and babies. So should it come as any surprise that there’s now a growing list of tech gear for the family pet as well?
It’s interesting to see how companies, both big and small, are innovating to focus on technology that can help make life easier for pets and owners, help ensure the family dog is getting enough exercise, or even to make it possible for you to communicate with your pet when you’re away.
Some of the gear is downright silly, seemingly solving problems that don’t really exist. For example, do you know any dog lover who would leave his pet at home for any lenth of time that would require remotely dispensing food? Chances are, you have someone dogsitting, or will be home long before the food supply has depleted. But others have real benefits behind them, like helping you ensure your dog is getting enough activity, or helping expand his social circle.
Perfectly exemplifying the trend, in a fun segment in Chelsea Handler’s new Netflix documentary series Chelsea Does, the comedian is seen trying out a device that lets you remotely chat to your pets and dispense treats. The food dispenser mounts to the wall at eye level for the canine, and includes a small video screen and speaker where you can “call” it to talk to your dog. Tap a button on your phone, and out will come a treat. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s available.
Gaming for Dogs
One of the most interesting new pet tech items I’ve seen is the CleverPet Hub, which is essentially a game console for dogs. They won’t be playing any first-shooter games or anything, hunting down cats. But rather, it’s meant to provide mental stimulation to your pets, and challenge them with cognitive puzzles. These include lights, sounds, and touchpads. When your dog solves a puzzle, the reward is some food. As he builds up his skills, the challenges get more and more difficult.
Just as there’s technology to help us track lost phones, keys, children, or even suitcases, there are devices that help you keep track of the family pet, to ensure he doesn’t get lost. Rather than use the traditional collar with owner information written inside, the Wistiki aha! is designed ideally to clip to a pet’s collar. If Sparky or Little Kitty runs away, you can use your phone to keep track of his whereabouts. The Bluetooth range is only 350 feet, but using crowdsourcing and other Wistiki users, you could find out exactly where your pet is before he truly gets lost from home.
There’s also the Motorola SCOUT5000 GPS Pet Tracker, which wraps around a dog’s head, and includes a wide-angle camera that can stream live video of what your dog is seeing to your compatible device, like an iOS or Android smartphone. This, along with GPS data, ensures you always know where he is. A geofencing feature, available via subscription (but you get one year free, along with one-year of GPS), will send an alert if your dog leaves a predefined perimeter, like the front yard. It also has an activity tracking component, and push-to-talk so you can actually talk to your pet remotely.
The Tractive GPS Pet Tracking Device is a bit different in that it clips to a collar, and can be used with a wide range of animals, including small ones. Use live tracking to see where the pets are at all times, whether it’s the dog playing outside, or the cat roaming around at home alone. You can set a Safe Zone and you’ll get an alert if the pet leaves it. And the integrated lights makes it easy for you to spot the pet in the dark.
Wearables are popular today for humans, so why not pets, too? Tractive’s Motion Pet Activity Tracker will tell you if your pet is getting enough exercise during the day, assigning a label to his activity levels: lazy, active, or dynamic. Seeing your furry friend labeled as lazy is enough to get any owner outside and enjoying some play time with Sparky. Or, the super competitive may work harder to be able to call his dog dynamic. Just like with human trackers, you can set daily goals for steps and other activities.
The FitBark activity tracker also fits on a dog’s collar, and tracks activities, daily progress, and resting time. Adding to the competitive nature, activity levels can be converted into BarkPoints that you can use to unlock rewards, like extra treats, for example. It can look at your dog’s activity levels compared to other dogs.
We, as humans, tend to gravitate toward the more fashionable wearable devices: those with fun colours, sleek designs, maybe even adorned with jewels. So why wouldn’t we want our pets to be just as fashion-forward? The Wonderwoof BowTie is a super-cute way to do this. As the name implies, it looks just like a tiny bowtie that affixes to the dog’s collar, and tracks activity. But it can also be used to schedule reminders for the owners for feeding, grooming, medical appointments, and play time. Want your best friend to find some canine friends of his own? There’s a map-based social network for meeting other Wonderwoofers in your area. Each one comes with three fashion bands to suit doggie’s daily style.
Chance are you know someone with a pet that’s overweight, maybe even obese. Focusing on your pet’s food and nutrition, French company Canhegat introduced its Canhe-Fit pet health and nutrition pendant, which lets mom and dad monitor both food intake and activity, based on the pet’s breed, age, and weight. It uses a built-in accelerometer to measure movement, and uses an algorithm that the company says contains the energy intake of more than 700 food formulas. That is calculated against daily energy expenditure. It’s not available yet, but it’s an interesting indication of where pet tech can take us in the future.
Communicating With Your Pet
While this one doesn’t dispense treats like the aforementioned device Handler tried out in Silicon Valley does, the Petcube Interactive WiFi Camera does let a pet’s parents communicate with the animal when they’re away. Stream HD video to your smartphone, and you can view your dog (or cat) at any time, speak to him, or even play with him. How? It has a built-in laser that you can remotely activate by swiping on your smartphone. Anyone who owns, or has even owned, a cat knows that a laser light is just about the best toy in the world for a feline. And if you happen to encounter a super-cute moment, you can even snap a photo or video to keep it forever. Access can be shared, which means everyone in the family will be able to tune into kitty and play with him. This year, Petcube confirmed that it would be adding a subscription cloud service to the device so that it can double as a security camera for the home as well, with motion sensing, sound detection, notification alerts, and even an auto-play mode for the laser toy.
Check out all of the cool pet technology available at Best Buy Online.