Some people get to bring their pets to work, and so they can literally throw their dog a bone during the day. Not everyone is so lucky, however, and cats and dogs can get up to a lot mischief while their owners are away. There are home security cameras with two-way talk, allowing you to scold Pitter Paws for scratching the sofa, but that doesn’t really solve the boredom issue.
Initially developed to help would-be pet owners fall in love with shelter animals, iPet HomePlay is a system that includes a camera, smart outlet, control box, and toy motor, enabling owners to watch and play with their animals remotely. The system shares some traits with the Pet Cube, which is a camera plus laser pointer.
Set up the iPet camera, plug the toy motor into the smart outlet, then stick in any wand-style toy. You can watch your pet via the live stream and turn on the motor to activate the toy. Whether it’s a feather attached to a string, a bubble machine, or a tennis ball tosser, if you can plug it into the smart outlet or attach it to the motor, you’ll be good to go.
The idea for the iPet Companion came from a Reach-In technology engineer who was using the company’s robotic equipment to entertain his cats. Soon after, an Idaho shelter installed a prototype of the system, which gained popularity and spread to 26 other humane societies.
What’s especially nice about the system is that the smart outlet has three slots, so you can also plug in a treat feeder or even a light, ensuring that your dog won’t be in the dark if you come home late. You’ll also get your own personal website — involving an ongoing cost of $3 a month for streaming and hosting — that you can keep private, share with friends, or make public. You’ll get an audio alert when someone else tunes in to your feed, but you’ll want to keep your privacy settings in mind when you yourself are in the camera’s view.
Though the company has been making shelter versions of the product, it wants the home version to be smaller, and that’s why it’s going to take until March 2016 before the system is ready to ship.
Right now, you can help crowdfund the system for $169 on Kickstarter. If you want your local shelter to have a system, you can pledge $2,000.