I’ll be doggone: walkie-talkie technology solves pet loneliness
Gadgets including robo-companions with real-time microphones and cameras, food and water dispensers ease boredom of Hong Kong animals
Dogs are one of the most common domestic pets in Hong Kong, but unlike fish, hamsters or cats, they require the most attention.
Leaving your dog at home alone all the time when you are out at work is not good for its psyche.
However, help is at hand in solving the problem – thanks to new technology.
“Boredom can cause a variety of problems with dogs, like excess energy, destruction, self mutilation and Canine Compulsive Disorder,” says Rosemarie Tang, a US-certified animal trainer and behaviour counsellor with more than 13 years of training experience, who works throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories.
Hong Kong companies are famous for their long working hours, which means many pet owners are inevitably forced to spend much of the day away from their animals.
Luckily, pet owners can now install connectivity gadgets – which work in much the same way that people keep in touch with their family and friends through FaceTime – in their home to keep their animals company.
They include a pet monitor, which features a microphone so your pet can hear you talk and respond to the sound of your voice in real time, and an “intelligent”water fountain, equipped with a light sensor and water-level indicator, which filters water and automatically adds the correct volume to keep the water fresh.
Yet why stop there?
A generation of smart robots for dogs are emerging on the market that can play with a pet while the owner is away.
CamToy, a start-up from France, has created Laika, a robo-companion for dogs, which allows owners to use their smartphone to monitor and interact with them when they are away from their home.
Laika ensures owners can keep track of their pet through live audio and video recording functions. The robot can be remote-controlled, or set on a self-running mode.
There is also a built-in treat dispenser, which can hold goodies of different sizes as rewards for the pet.
The company has also created a tracker that fits on a dog’s collar so that the robot can know where the dog is at all times and monitor its behaviour.
Another dog companion offering similar functions has been developed by Anthouse Technology,a start-up from Los Angeles.
The robot, called Buddy+, can move around at a speed controlled by the dog owner, and is equipped with a smart infrared system to avoid obstacles when moving.
Dog owners can speak with their dog using the walkie-talkie function via the built-in speaker, and they can take photos or videos of their dog and save them to their smartphone.
The robot is equipped with a mini-tennis ball launcher, which allows the dog owner to play fetch with the dog and set the distance of the throw.
They can reward their pet by offering it treats through the dispenser.
There is even a self-directed automated charging function with which the robot can find its charging station when its battery gets low.
New technology can also help owners keep their pets safe and healthy.
“I have clients who use the Tractive GPS trackeron their pets who tend to wander off,” Tang says.
“They’ll whisk out their iPads and let me know when their pets are on their way home. Genius!
“I have used Petkit to track my geriatric dog’s activity and sleep level to make sure that she gets her daily exercises and rest.”