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iPet Companion lets people play with real kitties over the internet

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March 31, 2011

iPet Companion is a system that allows internet users to remotely play with cats living in...

iPet Companion is a system that allows internet users to remotely play with cats living in animal shelters, via their computers and in real time
(All images courtesy AprioriControl)

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It seems to be one of those "well-known facts" that petting an animal can lower a person's blood pressure – and yes, we're assuming that the animal isn't a piranha. Unfortunately, many people are unable to own a pet, or they at least have to spend their stressful workday away from their cuddly critter. A new system called iPet Companion, however, lets users play with real, live cats – in real time – via the internet.

The business end of iPet Companion is a robotic device containing three user-movable cat toys, which is set up in the "cat room" of an animal shelter. A high-resolution web camera is pointed at the device, and feeds a live signal to the internet. Users go to the shelter's website and access the iPet interface, then wait in a queue for a free two-minute session at the device's onscreen controls, watching and responding to the live reactions of the kitties.

iPet Companion is a system that allows internet users to remotely play with cats living in...

The system is currently being tested at the Oregon and Idaho Humane Societies, and was supplied by iPet's parent company, AprioriControl. According the Oregon Humane Society, kitten adoptions have increased by 16 percent since the system was installed ("I want that one I was playing with on my computer!"), while donations and sponsorships have increased by 295 percent, and web traffic by 52 percent.

If nothing else, of course, it also provides the cats with much-needed exercise and mental stimulation. AprioriControl is now looking at bringing the system to other shelters, which would pay an installation fee and a monthly service charge.

The iPet Companion interface on the Oregon Humane Society's website

It seems that the fun, however, needn't be limited to playing with pets.

"With this technology, we can move anything that has a motor, or requires a button to be pushed, from any location in the world instantly," AprioriControl founder Scott Harris told us. "Some of the opportunities (markets) include television shows where dedicated fans can start the blender for their favorite chef, or viewers can shoot a paintball gun at the intern on the Jimmy Kimmel show, etc. The possibilities are truly limited only to the imagination."

Via InventorSpot

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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4 Comments

As of 9:30, April 1, 2011 (no, not "April Fool"), iPet Companion definitely does not work with Google Chrome browser. Doesn't seem to work with Mozilla Firefox. And only gets error screens using Internet Explorer. Sorry.

[You may have to download Silverlight -Ed.]

bill
1st April, 2011 @ 06:46 am PDT

Bill, you are right iPet Companion does not work with Chrome, as Chrome is too simplistic right now to accept the technology required to move things in real time.

However, IE, Safari, and Firefox all do work on Mac and PC OS, IF you have downloaded the latest Silverlight plugin - one time free installation - link to download: http://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/Get-Started/Install/Default.aspx

Silverlight is used by Netflix and other streaming websites, so a lot of people probably have it already.

If you are still having problems, please let us know directly your system, and we can investigate further why you are having issues. Just remember this is ground breaking technology that no-one else has achieved before ...

Thanks to everyone giving this a go, those cats may well get very tired today with all this playtime!

From us all at Apriori Control (parent company to iPet Companion)

Susanna Reay
1st April, 2011 @ 11:43 am PDT

Cats are happy! :)

btw, similar project was done earlier in 2003 by Dan Mikesell. here is the link http://meatbot.com/wordpress/?p=28

tosh
4th May, 2011 @ 10:23 am PDT

as of today, 6/20/2012 there are a total of SIX participating shelters! had lots of fun playing with the kittens! anyone reading this should check it out!

Sean McManus
20th June, 2012 @ 03:35 pm PDT
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