If you ask pet owners to pick the most difficult part of their workday routine, many would say “mornings.” They don’t mean the common struggles with getting out of bed or commuting, but rather the emotions involved in leaving their beloved pets behind. The sad look in the pets’ eyes suggests this is not an easy time for them either. Surveys conducted by ZenCrate and Zulily show that more than 32 million dogs in the US suffer anxiety when left alone at home, while 84 percent of pet parents frequently worry about their housebound fur babies.
There are a number of solutions available, such as pet sitters or daycare facilities, but these do not allow people and pets to actually stay connected. An increasingly popular tech-based approach that enables distanced interactions is smart pet monitoring cameras.
The global pet monitoring camera market hit US$50 million in 2018 and continues to grow as new and more sophisticated products become available.
The first pet camera prototypes were little more than monitors, sometimes with a speaker, and provided minimal interactions at best. However, thanks to the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques and Internet of things (IoT) devices, many additional functions have been added to make the parent-pet connection stronger.
PetCube is a perfect example of a smart pet camera product. The company is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and was founded in 2012 by Alex Neskin, who is also the founder of augmented reality (AR) startup DREAMCorp. The Petcube camera features a wide-angle lens, two-way audio, video history and pet care perks. It also provides security via a smart alert system for detecting abnormal barking or meowing. It’s available in a cat version, which adds a smart laser-pointer toy; and a dog version with a built-in treat dispenser that can be remotely operated.
For pet lovers looking for a serious, high-tech product to help solve lonely pet anxiety issues, there’s PetChatz from Anser Innovation, an IoT technology company founded in 2011. PetChatz provides something of a digital daycare service for home-alone pets. Like many other offerings, it also has a wide-angle, long-range camera, two-way audio and built-in treat dispenser. It also features some unique tech-enabled features, such as a smart motion-and-sound triggered video recording feature and even a smart aromatherapy delivery system designed to calm anxious pets.
If PetCube and PetChatz are not smart enough for your four-legged friend, then there’s the Furbo Dog Camera, which can be considered a truly AI-driven pet camera. Along with all the typical pet camera functions, Furbo Dog Camera also features a built-in action recognition system that can identify dogs’ unique behaviour patterns. These observations are used to enrich its training dataset and build a customized condition-recognition ability for individual pets. Located in Seattle, Furbo was founded in 2014 by Victor Chang and Maggie Cheung with help from Amazon Exclusives.
Smart pet cameras have brought many opportunities for pet monitoring, communication and safety, and can ease anxiety for both pets and parents. Although pets can become confused when they first see their owners “trapped in a screen,” these issues tend to resolve — and a familiar voice and the dispensing of familiar treats can help. Just like with human-to-human information and communication technology, smarter and faster is the trend in the rapidly developing market of smart pet cameras.
Analyst: Linyang Yu | Editor: Michael Sarazen
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