Pets that are home alone have a lot of time on their hands, resulting in boredom, anxiety, and a tendency to do things like tear up carpets. Not all of us can afford doggie daycare or have kids to coerce into playing with Fido while we’re at work, so there’s definitely a gap for technology to fill. CleverPet is an interactive device designed to keep your dog entertained by stimulating its mind and dispensing food as a reward. Fill it up with dry dog food and its software will run your pet through a selection of games designed to keep it stimulated and well-fed while you’re away.
CleverPet is made out of silicone, so it feels more inviting to a dog’s touch and can’t be confused with hard plastic things that dogs are told to stay away from, like phones and remotes. It also has a low center of gravity, so it can’t be knocked over, and it’s designed without any bits that invite chewing. Instead, its has three touch-sensitive pads that light up in colors inside a dog’s visual spectrum and a microphone to detect barks.
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If CleverPet reminds us of anything, it’s that old “Simon” game that made you repeat increasingly complex patterns of lights until you slip up and were rewarded with an electronic raspberry. In the same way, the CleverPet has three touch-sensitive pads that light up in different colors and combinations.
The idea is that CleverPett sets a series of challenges for your dog which, when successfully completed, results in food being dispensed as a reward. The challenges start off simple, with the dog hitting any pad to receive a reward, but as play progresses, the device adjusts the level of difficulty in real time to match the dog’s performance. The games include teaching the dog to detect changes in color, pressing a sequence of lights, and responding to commands pre-recorded in the user's own voice.
The makers say that CleverPet is more than a toy. It also replaces the dog’s food bowl as it doles out its food a bit at a time rather than in one huge dump. The device will also connect via Wi-Fi to iOS and Android smartphones via an app, as well as the company’s website to allow you to monitor your dog’s progress and control the device. The CleverPet is Arduino-compatible and open source, allowing custom apps to be created for the device.
CleverPet is the focus of a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of tooling and redesigning the feeder mechanism for manufacturing. It runs through June 1 and has already raised nearly US$85,000 of its $100,000 goal. The US$129 tier has already been filled, leaving the $159 tier as the minimum pledge to reserve a device, assuming all goes to plan.
The Kickstarter video pitch below shows the CleverPet in action.