Long left lonely
Most pets cannot be brought to work or taken on trips with air transportation. In such situations they may be left alone at home for a short period of time. That length of the time without human interaction used to be defined by the time between physical visits by their owner or a pet sitter.
Personalized pet phones
But recent innovations now include videophones designed for pets in the form of a purpose-built video communication device designed to be placed close to the floor, at a level matching your pet’s face. The device works in tandem with an app on the owner’s smartphone. The calls are always initiated by the owner, with the pet running towards the device to “answer the phone”. The pet sees the owner via a screen on their wall mounted device. In addition to communicating, the owner can dispense treats remotely, or add scent in additions to the sounds to attract the pet to the phone. The pet sees the owner through the video screen and the owner sees the pet via the app on the phone.
Certainly, from my own experience, I can confirm that this new way of communication works for cats. After a few days, my cat learned to attend to the ring signal and run to the screen to “answer the phone”. There’s no real problem in getting a cat to stand at a point allowing both parties to see each other well, and I found the sweet spot for the visual call seems to be around half a minute. After dispensing a treat, the conversation might be taken up again before the call is ended, with both owner an pet happier than before the call
Pushing Pavlov’s principles
This type of communication is in early stages and possible predictions for the future are:
- The technology suits animals that can be trained to attend to ring signals.
- It is possible to achieve a real human to animal feeling with a meaningful interaction via video and audio call.
- The ability to dispense treats seem central for initial attraction and consistent use of the application over time
- The primary market is as a complement to cat and dog sitters, rather than as a replacement for them.
Peter Linder is a Networked Society evangelist at Ericsson. He describes himself as a versatile visualizer, alliteration aficionado, movie maker and kinetic keynoter. His contributions focus on seven fields of market development: #SocietyShaping, #IndustryInnovations, #DeviceDiversification, #UnlockingUsers, #VersatileVideo, #NetworkNovelties and #BoldBusinessmodels. Peter joined Ericsson in 1991 and is currently based in Dallas, Texas.
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