Pet ownership is almost a universal experience. Around the world people own birds, cats, dogs, pigs and any other animal you can think of. The majority of those owners see their pets as more than an animal they own, but as one of the family. With the rise of pet adoption and awareness of animals in need of rescue, the pet industry has been on the rise. The current pet ownership experience is enjoying many innovations due to this business boom and it’s no wonder, considering how technology advances in every wake of life. It should be no different for the pet industry.
What is an area of pet ownership that would be better enhanced by technology? Communication. Don’t kid yourself, you grew up watching Dr. Dolittle and wondered how cool it would be if we could hear what the critters of the world were thinking.
WHY COMMUNICATE WITH PETS?
According to Stephen Hawking, animal consciousness is the same as our own. There are many things going on in their minds, consisting of more than chasing one’s tail. Animals experience complex emotions. For a pet owner, having communication with their pets would provide insurmountable insight into their pet’s needs. We could find out what ails them. They could express certain dietary needs or even just provide someone to talk to.
Now, we may not be able to full on Dr. Dolittle with Mittens or Scruffy, but technology is working hard on getting us closer to that goal.
“We looked at the industry as a whole and very much recognized that there was this great birth of the use of technology,” said David Clark, CEO of Petzi. “We came up with a device that we felt was an ideal entry point to begin an ecosystem of tech-enabled products within the pet industry.”
PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET
At this point in time it seems that everything is available on our phones. Companies have recognized this and now your pet care is enabled by the touch of a button via apps on your mobile device. That is exactly what Petzi has done. Their device allows you to communicate with your pet through an app on your mobile device.
“In positioning it to consumers, it’s less about solving the separation anxiety point as it is the sheer fun and sense of love and joy that the interaction brings them at any point in time from wherever they are,” said Clark. “It allows the owner to check in and relieve the guilt of being away and gives the pet an opportunity to break up their day and have a joyful interaction.”
For those without pets, it may be hard to understand – but pet owners will treat their furry family members like children. As such, when a new product comes out on the market that can help bring you closer to your fluffy friend, it’s sure to be a hit. Thus, a new trend has been born. We can sit back and watch the products roll in.
Motorola has come up with a pet video monitor, Scout 66. This app allows pet owners to check in on their pets as they travel, using a smartphone, tablet or computer. This device also provides owners with the ability to talk to their pets through the app.
“The whole idea of the Scout monitor is really to just connect with your animals and improve the human-animal bond,” said Sandy Robins, a spokesperson at Motorola. “You can check in on a young puppy or a pet that just had surgery. You can check in on all pets to see that they are okay.”
Scout 66 isn’t the only product available that allows you to talk to your furry friends. The people at Anser Innovation have manufactured a product that takes pet communication to the next level.
“Petchatz is a patented greet and treat video phone that allows pet parents to interact remotely with their pets,” said Lisa Lavin, CEO at Anser Innovation. “They can see each other, hear each other and talk to each other.”
Petchatz has a speaker, microphone and a webcam that not only allows two way sound, but two way video with LCD display. Undoubtedly, you are wondering what sets this product apart from others on the market – the people at Petchatz have added a special feature that allows their product to dispense treats and certain scents to your pet.
“Not only can they hear us and see us, but they also have a scent that is being emitted and the scent is about associating this very unique scent to this very unique experience,” Lavin said.
It’s this unique experience that encouraged the Kittyo to tailor exclusively to feline owners. Everyone has a special relationship with the pets they own, but there is no arguing that cat owners are of a different breed. Like the products described before, the Kittyo lets you watch, speak, play with and record your cat. It can even dispense cat treats while you are away.
“The majority of cat owners miss their furry friends when they are at work or traveling,” said Lee Miller, founder and CEO of Kittyo. “With Kittyo, you can now check in with your cats, play with them and dispense treats anytime you’d like, wherever you may be. The laser chasing game entertains your cat, satisfies his stalking instinct and helps him get more exercise during the day (studies indicate that more than 50 percent of U.S. cats are overweight or obese).”
What it all boils down to is helping enhance the experience of pet ownership. The products that are currently being made available provide a great sense of relief for pets and owners who suffer from separation anxiety. Those of us who like to travel a lot and leave their pets at home now have a product that allows us to check in and make sure everything is all right back at home.
What we are seeing is just the beginning of pet communication technology. With scientific advancements, technological communication with pets would not only allow you to have a deeper connection with your furry friends, but one day it could also help resolve many issues we have with our pets. In the not so far future, everything from pet training to general behavioural problems with our pets would be impacted. Having a better understanding of what drives your pet’s behaviour would allow owners of rescued animals to better cope with the transition to a new home. Owners would have more insight in helping the rescued animal feel secure and cope with their PTSD. For pets that are going through illnesses, owners would be able to help them feel more comfortable.
Overall, the quality of life for pets and owners alike will be forever changed. One day we could have that Dr. Dolittle moment, where we would drop off Spot at the animal therapist office and he could communicate all the problems he has with you – of course you, because it’s always the parent’s fault.