Can tech assist make canine smarter?
That’s the query behind PupPod, a Seattle-based startup which simply debuted its newest app-based interactive toy for canine.
I’ve spent the previous few weeks testing out PupPod with my 9-month-old labrador Ichi. It’s been a enjoyable new exercise for each of us, particularly throughout wet Seattle evenings and an ongoing pandemic. I got here away impressed with the slick app and the progressive video games. Ichi additionally accepted, particularly when the gadget gave him treats!
The PupPod expertise, which retails at $199, features a bobbing toy, a feeder, and the cellular app. The fundamental premise is that the canine touches the toy, and treats come out of the feeder. The app has 5 ranges that make it more durable for the canine to win a deal with — ignoring sure sounds, touching the toy instantly after a sound, and many others.
On Stage 1, the canine has to easily contact the bobbing toy and a deal with dispenses. On Stage 2, rewards are earned when the toy is touched instantly after a sound performs. Stage 3 introduces a brand new sound that doesn’t dispense a deal with — the canine should study to disregard it till listening to the deal with sound.
The expertise requires some stage of involvement by an proprietor to assist educate the canine easy methods to work together with the toy and feeder. Ultimately, the sport generally is a dependable option to maintain the canine occupied whilst you work or prepare dinner dinner. It additionally tires the pup out, each from strolling and the psychological stimulation. As they are saying, a drained canine is an effective canine.
The feeder and toy could be managed remotely exterior of the home. The app has a stay streaming video function, utilizing a digital camera on the feeder.
PupPod says its sport requires canine to make use of their prefrontal cortex, which may enhance consideration spans and cut back senility in older canine. It will possibly additionally create optimistic associations with sure sounds, resembling doorbells or fireworks.
The canine tech hasn’t modified my life, nor Ichi’s. Nevertheless it’s a welcome addition to our sport routine, which nonetheless contains old-school puzzles, and low-tech feeder toys that we use throughout time for supper.
That is the second product from PupPod, based in 2014 by former Microsoft workers Erick Eidus and Kandarp Jani. The concept for the corporate originated at a Startup Weekend occasion. Its first product retailed at $499.
The brand new model is launching amid a pandemic that has spurred increased pet ownership inside a pet care business that was already “booming” pre-pandemic. Different digital pet corporations are seeing progress this yr. On-line retailer Chewy, for instance, is adding customers at record pace, and its inventory value has doubled since March. Pet care startup Rover, additionally primarily based in Seattle, has rebounded after slicing workers earlier this yr.
Eidus stated canine house owners want a option to maintain canine busy whereas working from dwelling, and never utilizing daycares or walkers as steadily. He stated $199 is a “no-brainer” for pet mother and father who had been beforehand spending $300-to-$600 a month on daycare whereas they went to work.
There are different high-tech interactive feeder toys, together with a canine digital camera constructed by fellow Seattle startup Furbo. Different opponents embrace Petcube, Petchatz, and Intelligent Pet.
However the built-in video games give PupPod an edge. Eidus stated there may be big potential for PupPod to assist democratize animal studying.
“Canines have the flexibility to detect the presence of COVID, most cancers, low blood sugar in diabetics, pre-seizures in epileptics, explosives for navy canine, medication, and fruit, however solely a fraction of canine who’re showered with cash and human labor get to study these expertise,” he stated. “In the long run, we’ll convey such a studying to market with software-driven video games.”
The worldwide pet care market is predicted to develop from $225 billion in 2019 to $358 billion in 2027, in keeping with Fior Markets.