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, 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, 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 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, 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 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 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)
  • Steve0620-yyca
    3/16/2016 - 08:27 p.m.

    I think that the new technologies developed by many people will be very helpful. There are some devices like PetChatz, Cleverpet, Petspeak, and Petcube Camera. Petchatz lets your pets call you. CleverPet lets your pets play games and win treats when they're home alone. Petspeak lets your pets talk like a human. The Petcube Camera lets humans see and speak to their pets and play with them with a laser pointer. I don't think that people actually need the different types of technologies but they can just interact with the pets regularly.

  • taylorl-3-bar
    3/17/2016 - 12:09 p.m.

    Technology can help pet be tracked where they are every day of every second. I chose this article because it looked interesting to learn about.

  • dallinp.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 06:09 p.m.

    That is awesome! Now you can interact with your pet in Texas when you're in Colorado! One thing they need to possibly consider is an automated pet petter that pets your pet when your away.
    One thing though that didn't make sense to me was that pet phone. How would your dog know when it's calling you and know not to call you at night or in the middle of school/work?

  • kailynh.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 07:37 p.m.

    I think, even though pets are unable to talk to humans and express their feelings, they will feel more connected to their owners or their care-takers. it will build even a stronger bond and more of an unbreakable connection between man and their pet.

  • calebc.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 07:55 p.m.

    Because when you are not with your pets during the day then they can get lonely and this allowS you to play and talk to them and so they see and hear you more.

  • madisons.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 08:22 p.m.

    it might compromise the relationship by no allowing physical interaction.

  • lucasddd-3-bar
    3/17/2016 - 09:11 p.m.

    The technology comprises the relationship between pets and owners because it lets them bond, even when they can't be home.
    i liked this article, and i want something like that so i can watch my dog when I'm gone.

  • samuelh-3-bar
    3/17/2016 - 10:05 p.m.

    This technology could compromise the relationship between pets and their owners by, making the pet more attached to the device than the owner, or the owner not taking care of the pet as much as he or she should be watching over there companion. The owner also might not hire someone to go and make sure that the pet is there and if it isn't they would have no way to catch there pet.

  • annah.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 10:06 p.m.

    This is another example of how technology has evolved and is evolving today!

  • garrettm.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 10:08 p.m.

    UT helps the pet do what it needs to do without disturbance and let's owner see what it's doing

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