Home version of iPet Companion lets owners tele-play with their pets
By Ben Coxworth
October 7, 2011
If you own a dog or a cat and are having a hard day at work, wouldn't it be nice to be able to take a break and play with them? Well, if you've got the money, now you can do it - via the internet. A consumer version of a system already in use at some U.S. animal shelters, iPet Companion Home Version lets computer users remotely control dog or cat toys located in their home, watching their pets reacting to those toys' movements in real time. For some people, it could be the biggest workplace distraction since Facebook.
The in-home iPet hardware consists of a webcam, a control box, and two mechanisms that are capable of swinging and bobbing one pet toy each (which aren't included). Remotely accessing a password-protected online portal, users utilize onscreen controls to operate the two mechanisms, making the toys move. The live webcam feed shows them the moving toys, along with their critters' reactions - hopefully, the animals will respond by playing with the toys, as opposed to being freaked out by two inanimate objects that appear to be moving on their own.
If users don't want to spend too much company time goofing off with Fido or Felix, they can spread the playtime around by giving their password to family and friends. In the commercial version of iPet Companion, anyone can access the portals, with users often having to wait several minutes in an online queue before they can interact with the shelter animals.
iPet Companion Home Version is available now via the product website, and is priced at US$849.95 for the cat version, or $895 for the presumably more rugged dog version. For the launch, both are currently being offered at $500 off. Users will also have to pay a $4.95 monthly subscription fee.