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 California's 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. Americans spent more than $60 billion on them last year. That is 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. He is chairman of IDTechEx. It is 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. She runs the DogEvolve training school. It is in Oakland.
 
The Petzi Treatcam lets Anne Ryan check on her dogs Oscar and Reggie at her home in Berkeley, Calif., when she's working in San Francisco or traveling out of state.
 
The Internet-connected device lets her see her dogs. She can talk to them, take photos and even dispense treats. She does it by 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. The company was founded by two veteran technology executives. They 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 is a new San Francisco company. It 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. Pets are moving up the household hierarchy, he said.
 
"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. Owners even can play with them, using a laser pointer.
 
Petcube's Ukrainian founders started the company in Kiev. But they 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."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How might technology compromise the relationship between pets and pet owners?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (59)
  • samuelr-2-bar
    3/16/2016 - 03:47 p.m.

    Technology may compromise the relationship between pets and owners because instead of people doing things directly with their pets they do it through the electronics. This could cause owners to grow more distance from their pets. The article talks about a pet technology company "Whistle is a new San Francisco company. It 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." This shows how the Pet tracker maybe could be a good thing because you would not lose your pet as much as you would if you did not have this app. To summarize technology may compromise the relationship between pets and owners because instead of people doing things directly with their pets they do it through the electronics.

  • aliviac-pla
    3/16/2016 - 03:51 p.m.

    Pet Tech is becoming more popular in California and beyond. This is a big opportunity for pet owners and entrepreneurs. There are already pet tech items that allow you to call your pets, play games with them and give them treats when you're not home and even allow your pet to speak to you. Some experts however are cautioning that owners may rely on the tech to much. Some of this new tech can allow people to communicate with their pets when they are not home and get their pet to be more active throughout the day.

    This is engaging for society because a lot of people ( 80 million homes according to the article ) have pets in the US. As technology increases in society it’s inevitable for our pets to not feel the effects of the technology increase. People obviously have a strong feeling for their pets when they are willing to spend money to be able to simply video chat with their pet during the day while they are at work.

  • calis-3-bar
    3/16/2016 - 05:49 p.m.

    Technology might compromise the relationship between the pets and pet owners because it could lead to owners relying on the technology rather than face to face communication with their pets. With advanced technology owners may think of that technology as a substitute for actually spending time with their dogs ,leading to them becoming neglectful. I liked this article. As a dog owner myself, it is always nice to see what technology is doing for me and my dog's relationships. However, I am well aware that that is no substitute for face-to-face contact with pets.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    3/16/2016 - 10:03 p.m.

    The high tech gadgets that the owner of a dog would use might have wanted to use the gadgets to check up on how their dogs are doing while they are away on a vacation or while they are working. The pet owners might have wanted to check in on how their pets are doing or how they are behaving if they are playing a game with their dogs and give them their treats on what they had done good. The owners might have wanted see if their pets are actually behaving because the owners would know that the gadgets would be very relying on them and on their pets. People might have been seeing that the gadgets would be very useful for their pets which people might have wanted to check in with their pets to see if they are out of the safe zone or if they are behaving.
    Critical Thinking Question: How might technology compromise the relationship between pets and pet owners?
    Answer: The relationship between pets and pet owners is that pets would most likely to be doing something while their owner is out and their pet owners might have relied on their pets to be behaving well while they are away.

  • william1108-yyca
    3/16/2016 - 10:19 p.m.

    Technology might compromise the relationship between the pets and pet owners because it could lead to owners relying on the technology rather than face to face communication with their pets. With advanced technology owners may think of that technology as a substitute for actually spending time with their dogs ,leading to them becoming neglectful. I liked this article. As a dog owner myself, it is always nice to see what technology is doing for me and my dog's relationships. However, I am well aware that that is no substitute for face-to-face contact with pets.

  • dashiellg-3-bar
    3/17/2016 - 12:37 a.m.

    Technology may compromise the relationship between pets and owners because the owner is almost always with their pet. The pet may feel less lonely when their owner is gone, with technology the pet will always feel connected and bond more with their owner. This article talks about a new company called "Whistle" and what it does is tells the dog when they are being bad or where they are not supposed to be. This company could train your dog easily without you having to much at all. I thought this article was interesting because I have heard about pet technology, but nothing this complex.

  • abbyr-nic
    3/17/2016 - 09:17 a.m.

    The pets can stay entertained wile there owners are away by watching there devices. I think that this is a good idea although it could be pricey it will keep your dog healthy and happy wile your gone. It will also keep them out of trouble the will be so distracted they wont even chew on things.

  • magdalenen-
    3/17/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    Technology can bring their owner and there pet closer because they might have to be gone for maybe like three weeks and they cant bring there pets with them.Technology can also keep watch over them if they do anything wrong like spilling food or even eating food without you knowing.They could slo clean their poop so instead of getting mad at them for taking a poop on the couch you can hang out with them more.The owners might think or wish to hear or know what the pet wants or is saying whenever they bark or meow or the animal sound.They could come in handy because animals are smart and they can remind you to talk them on a walk or buy food.For all you know they can even teach them manners and be nice and not to bit strangers.That is what technology can do.

  • chaseh-2-nic
    3/17/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    Well the dog might not get lots of attention so it feels left out and the owner is relying on the technology instead of him doing work. I love dogs and I have two at home and I would never let technology get in the way. Also if I get anything that's tech related it would be a shock collar so it wont bark all the time.

  • stacys-1-nic
    3/17/2016 - 12:53 p.m.

    Technology compromises the relationship between pets and pet owners by the pet owner having a devise connected to their pet's so they know where they are if they disappear. I think its smart that pet owners have their pets connected to technology. If I had a pet I would have my pet connected to technology so if my pet ran off somewhere and I couldn't find them I would check my phone to find where they are at.

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