High-tech for pets keeps animals safe, healthy and connected In this Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, photo, Russell Gipson Shearer displays the Whistle pet tracker, a GPS-enabled device, on his dog Rocket at Dolores Park in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
High-tech for pets keeps animals safe, healthy and connected
Lexile

Technology isn't just for humans anymore. It's also for their furry friends.
 
In Silicon Valley and beyond, a growing number of new companies are selling devices to keep pets safe, healthy, entertained and connected when their owners are away.
 
"Pet tech" entrepreneurs and investors see a big opportunity as pet ownership grows and owners show a willingness to spend serious money on their four-legged companions.
 
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households, or 80 million homes, have pets and Americans spent more than $60 billion on them last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
 
"The number of pets in the world is growing extremely fast and that opens up the market," said Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, a technology market research firm. "I'm sure five years from now there will be all sorts of things we can't imagine."
 
Already, there are devices that let your pets call you (PetChatz), play games and win treats when they're home alone (CleverPet) and even speak with a human voice (Petspeak).
 
But as more pet-tech gadgets come to market, experts caution owners against relying on them too much.
 
"The technology can be useful as an adjunct, a way of enriching your relationship with your pet, but certainly not a substitute for time spent with your dog," said Pamela Wyman, who runs the DogEvolve training school in Oakland.
 
The Petzi Treatcam lets Anne Ryan check on her dogs Oscar and Reggie at her Berkeley home when she's working in San Francisco or traveling out of state.
 
The Internet-connected device lets her see her dogs, talk to them, take photos and even dispense treats - using an app on her phone.
 
"I turn it on, get to see them, get to talk to them and it changes my mood, and puts me back in a positive frame," said Ryan said. "I didn't know that I needed it, but now I don't think that I could live without it."
 
The TreatCam was created by San Jose-based Petzila, which was founded by two veteran technology executives who wanted to get their pets online. The startup also created a social media app that lets owners share pet photos.
 
"All of the most current crazes and fads in technology were touching everything but the pet," said CEO David Clark.
 
Whistle, a new San Francisco company, sells a GPS-enabled Pet Tracker that alerts owners when their pets have left their "safe zone" and helps find them if they get lost. The device also lets owners track how much exercise and sleep their animals are getting.
 
Ben Jacobs, Whistle's CEO and co-founder, said the pet-tech market is expanding fast as pets move up the household hierarchy.
 
"From the yard to the home to the bed - the dog is no longer out as part of the farm, but they're actually sleeping in bed with you as part of the family," Jacobs said.
 
For owners who want their dogs and cats to be more active during the day, the Petcube Camera lets them see and speak to their pets, and play with them with a laser pointer.
 
Petcube's Ukrainian founders started the company in Kiev, but moved its headquarters to San Francisco to reach a global market.
 
"If we can connect all the pets to the Internet and basically digitize this space, it will be nothing short of disruption," said Yaroslav Azhnyuk, Petcube CEO and co-founder. "It will be very big."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 46 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How might technology compromise the relationship between pets and pet owners?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • lukeh-orv
    3/16/2016 - 02:04 p.m.

    This is really cool! This new tech could help lots of pets and their owners. I would buy this product!

  • jacksonb-kut
    3/17/2016 - 08:03 a.m.

    This is very interesting. I don't know why people would rep- Yes, I do, actually. But we really shouldn't replace our pets with this.



    ---------------------------------------------------
    "Food" - Random Guy On the Street

  • jaredk-ver
    3/18/2016 - 09:59 a.m.

    I dont have a dog but this seems really useful for people who do

  • iselk1-pay
    3/28/2016 - 09:08 a.m.

    I believe this new technology is a great way to keep pets happy while the owner is away. I don't agree that it should be used as the only connection between the pet and owner. But, it is a very great idea for when the owner is at work or school.

  • patricial2-pay
    4/08/2016 - 08:08 a.m.

    This could be a really cool idea. Even thou pets don't really need technology lol. We should only use this if our pet is lost/missing.

  • jacobk-wal
    4/29/2016 - 08:56 a.m.

    Yes, this product could be really good to use when away on trips,not at home, or at work but this could really effect how people work because if you are in work and you get board and you use this app to see your dog and boss catches you, you're done. But I am not saying this a bad product it has the potential to be great but also has the potential for bad.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/20/2016 - 10:00 p.m.

    While technology is useful for many things, people have come to rely on it way too much. Not only does technology limit the amount of time people spend face-to-face with others, or with their pets, but it also seems to overcast the value of true friendship, where people should make an effort to hang out and do things together instead of texting and showing the world what they have been up to through use of social media. If someone wants to have a pet, they should realize the time and money they must spend with it, instead of relying on technology to help them with yet another thing.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT