For dog owners who treat their pets like children, it can be hard leaving them alone while at work. Who's going to pamper your pooch with treats while you're gone? What if - in the absence of your constant reminders - they forget who is, in fact, a good boy? Furbo is designed to allay these fears by letting you remotely talk to, and feed, your pet.
Furbo is made up of a HD camera, two-way audio and a treat-tossing mechanism. Rather than being passive and trying to remove the human effort from fetch, or saving you the effort of bobbing a cat's toy up and down, it's designed to promote interaction from a distance.
Owners are able to see what their dog is doing through a 120-degree 720p camera, which is fitted out with 4X zoom and night vision. There's also two-way audio, allowing you to hear what your pet has to, er, say and respond from your desk.
Furbo will even notify you via the companion app when it detects your dog barking, although it won't keep track of your pet's health like Kyon, or act as a Fitbit-style canine trainer. Considering our pets have survived this long without up-to-the-minute reports on their temperature and step counts, that's no great shame.
Once you've synced your Furbo companion app (iOS, Android or Apple Watch) with the Wi-Fi-enabled base unit at home, you can even remotely launch a treat for your dog. Swiping up on your live stream will shoot whatever you've loaded into the treat-container off in a random direction, engaging the pet in a game of close-range fetch. Oddly enough, nothing in Furbo's material says it can't be loaded with jellybeans and used to placate children, either.
To prevent curious pooches from knocking the unit over and feasting on all the treats inside, the unit can be secured with 3M adhesive on the base, and there's a flush-fitting bamboo lid on the treat container.
If all of this isn't enough, or you're not content with watching your dog's every move alone, the system will let you record video and photos to share on social media. Although Furbo claims this could make your pet "the next viral superstar," we're pretty sure it'll lead to a swift exodus of followers tired of updates on how much of a #cutiepie your dog is.
Those concerned with privacy will be pleased to know there's a smart setting that turns the camera off when your phone is within Bluetooth range, so paranoid partners can't use the camera to keep tabs on their spouse using the system.
The remote treat-dispenser is currently on Indiegogo, where it has raised over US$89,200 – comfortably more than the initial $50,000 goal. If things go as planned, the product should ship in July this year, at which point buyers can expect to pay $239. If you get in early, however, Furbo is offering the unit for pledges of just $99.
That $239 pricetag is $70 more than you'll have to pay for the Petzi Treat Cam, which shares all but the bark alert feature with Furbo. It also won't provide treats at regular intervals like the $71 Foobler, which is designed to make bored pets play for their food.
Furbo's video showing the treat dispenser in action is below.