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

Assign to Google Classroom

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."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 398 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How might technology compromise the relationship between pets and pet owners?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (66)
  • kateh5600-612-
    3/18/2016 - 12:05 p.m.

    Technology may compromise the relationship between pets and owners because instead of people doing things directly with their pets they will do it through electronics. This could cause owners to grow more distant 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 could be a good thing because you would not lose your pet as much as you would if you did not have the app.

  • taryn-raf
    3/18/2016 - 02:17 p.m.

    i think people will no longer pay attention to there pets if they have pet tech

  • samf-ver
    3/18/2016 - 02:24 p.m.

    It's important for dogs and other animals to have a strong bond with their owner, but technology might get in the way of that bond and maybe even eventually replace the important parts an owner plays in their pets life.
    People should take care of their animals and not be lazy about it. If they are committed to owning a animal they should take responcibility and not have technology do the work for them

  • tylerb1-ver
    3/18/2016 - 02:24 p.m.

    I think this is a very smart idea because if the owners are away pets get very lonely and will eat all the food and your couch "I've been there".On the other hand the pets get lots of sleep and hold all of there energy until the owner get back.

  • kylel-ver
    3/18/2016 - 03:27 p.m.

    This could be good to see what your pet is doing. Also if he tries to get at food or something that's on the counter you can say no.

  • ethanb1-ver
    3/18/2016 - 03:28 p.m.

    I think it's cool that people are using phones to keep animals/ pets healthy. Put how would you keep your pet healthy on your phone? Maby a app and had to keep track when to feed him and when to let them out

  • dannys-ver
    3/18/2016 - 03:31 p.m.

    I want one for my dog if I ever get so I know how it's doing. And ahead of time i know how it's feeling.

  • stellas-6-bar
    3/18/2016 - 04:13 p.m.

    Technology compromises the relationship between pets and their owners because lately people are on their devises more than paying attention. Paying more attention could be more time with your pet. I picked this article because I love my dog, but i could spend more time with her.

  • bellam-kut
    3/20/2016 - 03:52 p.m.

    This was really interesting to read about. I think that pets would love this because there not just laying around doing nothing they get to hear their owner's voice and play with them. I also feel like they might get a little overwhelmed with all the gadgets because humans might use too many they just have to find the best one for there pet. I'm going to go investigate on the app.

  • stephaniek-kut
    3/20/2016 - 06:12 p.m.

    Its amazing how much we spend on our pets, it would be more suprising if new technology didn't come out regarding the dogs. The sad thing is that we don't use this technology correctley. If we have so many dogs, then we shouldn't rely on apps or devices to take care of them. Sure the technology is great, but it should be used if needed not as a substatiute.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT