That is what the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign called Felik want to help with. They developed a smart device they describe as being a bit like a “Kinect for pets.” It combines a camera, computer vision algorithms, motion tracking, and artificial intelligence to keep your beloved cat or dog entertained (and therefore mentally active) with a laser pointer in your absence.
“All existing laser pet toys move in unnatural random or pre-programmed patterns and do not react to pets’ movements,” inventor Yuri Brigance told Digital Trends. “Others, like PetCube, allow a human to control the laser via an app, but it requires real-time human interaction and there’s a lag between using the app and seeing the laser move. Felik doesn’t require any human interaction and produces laser movements that are almost identical to a human moving a laser by hand. It is designed to mimic natural prey like a bug or a mouse.”
Brigance said he started developing Felik to look after his two cats, Mike and Molly, which he had adopted from a local pet shelter. After a change in his living situation, Brigance found himself without someone at home to look after the cats during the day when he was out working. “I couldn’t leave them with just the food bowl and nothing to play with so I started working on Felik to bridge that gap,” he said.
Felik doesn’t just help take care of your pets while you’re out, either. It also comprises a mobile app, which reminds human owners to play with their resident feline or canine when they are at home — if the constant meowing or barking isn’t enough of a reminder! It will even log how many hours you spend with your pet.
The device is currently available for pre-order, with prices starting at $104. Shipping will take place this November.