There are already internet-controlled pet toys out there that let users play with their dog or cat when they're not at home, watching the animal via an accompanying camera in the house. PlayDate, however, is a little different. It's a ball with a Wi-Fi-connected camera right in it, so users can watch their pets playing from the toy's point of view.
There are two main parts to PlayDate – an inner sphere that contains the 160-degree HD camera and other electronics, and a separate clear polycarbonate outer shell. Motorized wheels protruding from the sides of the sphere roll against the inside of the shell, causing it to move across the floor while the sphere remains relatively stable and upright inside.
Using a free iOS/Android app, users can view a live feed from the camera on their mobile device or computer, anywhere in the world. If their pet doesn't happen to be nearby at the time, they can get its attention by causing PlayDate to emit a squeaking sound.
Using onscreen controls, they can then move the ball left, right, forward or backward, plus they can listen to their pet via the ball's onboard mic, talk to it using the speaker, or record video/photos of it as it's playing – and yes, they are likely to end up with some nice views of the inside of its mouth.
With that in mind, given that the outer shell is likely to end up getting quite scratched, it is replaceable.
PlayDate is currently the subject of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, and has already surpassed its financial goal. A pledge of US$149 will still get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is $249.
The ball can be seen in action, in the following video.