Pet tech is having a moment at CES (again). Several companies previewed their pet-focused products at Unveiled on Sunday evening ahead of the show's official opening this week. And, while some could theoretically make life easier for pets and pet owners, most of them just feel overpriced and impractical.
A mood ring, but not — There's definitely value to knowing what your pet is feeling at any given moment; understanding situations that make a dog anxious, for example, could help you avoid potentially dangerous run-ins in the future. Japanese startup Inupathy introduced its own take on a solution at the Las Vegas tech show — a color-changing harness that keeps track of your pet's mood. It does so using a built-in heart rate sensor and displays one of five colors on the LED squiggles based on the reading.
That's all it really does, though — The smart harness pairs with an app so you can see how your dog's mood has fluctuated over time. That includes: relaxed, excited, happy, interested, and stressed.
It doesn't provide any form of haptic feedback (say, some gentle thundershirt-style compression), can only connect to one smartphone via Bluetooth, and it's not waterproof. It does cost about $400, though, (and for now, only in Japan).
LuluPet, on the other hand, introduced a smart litter box that can provide data on your cat's health. It's a concept that's been teased before in varying forms, but this time around, there's AI involved to up the benefits. That being the "world's first excretory image recognition system" — or, real-time analysis of cat poop.
A bit TMI perhaps — If your cat has diarrhea, you'll know about it... as... it... happens? Seriously. According to LuluPet, the system will notify you via app in real-time of anything "abnormal."
It's, of course, crucial for a pet's health for their human to be aware of what's going on with their digestion. Cats have a tendency to conceal physical discomfort until a situation is dire. But there's another, cheaper way you'll find out if something concerning is up with your cat's bowels — scoop the litter box.
OK I actually kinda love this — On that note, the idea of self-scooping litter box will never fail to interest me. Scooping the litter box is an unpleasant chore, but you really can't shirk it if you don't want to make your cat miserable (or spiteful). So anything that promises to take that burden off even a little is welcome in my house.
At Unveiled, iKuddle showed off an impressive smart cat litter box that can sift out the soiled debris and pack it into a bag, all without your help. You can let it do its work automatically — it kicks in a few minutes after the cat uses the box — or use the connected app to run a cycle at whim. The packing system coupled with built-in deodorizing could, in theory, do wonders for smell by keeping any foul odors locked in.
And, like others on display, the accompanying app can give you health tips based on your cat's litter box habits. It's not cheap though — iKuddle's litter box is currently selling on Indiegogo for just under $400.
Whatever the cost — A lot of this stuff might be gimmicky, but I'm not hating. For many of us, our pets are our world — so if you want to ball out on a $400 mood vest for your pup, be my guest.