Dog Bytes

Keep­ing tabs on your furry friends has turned high-tech, writes Roger Crosth­waite.

Australian House & Garden - - News -

Pet tech.

Ev­ery pet owner must even­tu­ally ask them­selves: when is the right time for my dog or cat to get their first smart­phone? No? Not quite ready for that? You could be right. Un­til some­one fi­nally in­vents paw-sen­si­tive touch­screens or meow-recog­ni­tion soft­ware, that’s some­thing you won’t have to ad­dress.

But, for good or ill, smart­phone tech­nol­ogy has al­ready in­vaded the world of house­hold pets. Techno­phobes may blanch at the idea, but if a GPS-equipped col­lar send­ing in­for­ma­tion to your phone could save you the heart-in-mouth panic of a miss­ing pet, then why not?

The mak­ers of the Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped Pod ($255, pet­barn.com.au) pro­claim their de­vice to be the world’s small­est and light­est GPS pet-tracker. It’s a gizmo the size of a wine cork that at­taches to your pet’s col­lar and re­lays the an­i­mal’s lo­ca­tion back to your smart­phone or com­puter. It can even send you an alert when your pet leaves a pre­de­ter­mined area.

Tak­ing the he­li­copter-owner con­cept one step fur­ther are Blue­tooth-en­abled col­lars such as the Kyon Pet Tracker (ky­on­tracker. com), seen above left, and the Fel­cana (fel­cana.com), both set to launch soon. They can lo­cate your pet and mon­i­tor its habits through­out the day. You’ll know whether they’re eat­ing or drink­ing too much or too lit­tle, snooz­ing the day away or pacing fran­ti­cally, and even how of­ten they go to the toi­let. Which may be just a lit­tle too much in­for­ma­tion, ac­tu­ally.

If you’d like to lit­er­ally view the world from your ca­nine’s per­spec­tive, there’s the Fetch dog har­ness ($65, gopro.com), pic­tured above right. This al­lows you to mount any GoPro cam­era to your dog’s back or chest in or­der to get a mutt’s-eye view of things.

But what if your pet is the couch-potato type and it’s you who’s on the prowl? You can touch base with your stay-at-home ball of fur thanks to a va­ri­ety of mon­i­tor­ing de­vices, the daddy of which is the Skype­like PetChatz Greet & Treat video phone (about $496, ama­zon.com). You can share some face time and have a chat with your pet over the two-way au­dio and video link – and even have the de­vice dis­pense treats.

It can be sup­ple­mented with the PetChatz PawCall (about $130, ama­zon.com), which is, as you may al­ready have guessed, a paw-ac­ti­vated con­trol that al­lows your pet to ini­ti­ate the call. Yes, you can be nui­sance-called by your own pet.

If that’s all too much too soon, the wi-fi-en­abled Petzi Treat Cam (about

$222, ama­zon.com) keeps it sim­pler, with a one-way video link so you can see what your pet is up to, an au­dio link so they can be soothed by your voice, and a slot that dis­penses co­mestibles on your com­mand.

Other vari­a­tions on the theme are the Petcube In­ter­ac­tive Wi-Fi Pet Cam­era ($349, pet­barn.com.au), which in­cludes a re­mote-op­er­ated laser toy to amuse your house­bound pal, and the Pet­net Smart Feeder (about $194, ama­zon.com), which al­lows you to set and change feed­ing times from a phone and check whether or not your pet has ac­tu­ally eaten.

Ul­ti­mately, though, one won­ders whether an app-y pet is a happy pet. Looks like we’ll have to wait for that bark-trans­la­tion down­load to find out.

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