Connected Objects Pets

iCPooch offers videochats, snacks to defeat doggie doldrums

The Premise. Snoopy has it pretty good. He can act out the carefree antics of Joe Cool, have exciting Red Baron adventures, mess with little kids as the Easter Beagle or Great Pumpkin, win first place in a Christmas light contest, and perhaps best of all, demand dinner on a whim. Meanwhile, other dogs are stuck at home in an empty house while their owners get to have all the fun!

The Product. iCPooch is one dog owner’s attempt to bring relief to the depression that many dogs experience when their entire world has walked out the door a duration that seems unending. Owners simply connect the doggie delighting device to a wireless router, and then they can easily stay in touch with their four-legged family member. Yes, now even dogs can make their own selfies of sorts as they videobark with their humans by using their very own smartphone or tablet attached to an included adjustable mounting bracket. And just like any savvy record representative for a major label or a Hollywood studio lawyer, the owner maintains control. In this case, that’s with the iCPooch Android app, iOS app, or Web browser. Owners can even deliver a treat at the click of a mouse if their doggie is behaving. Several treat sizes will be compatible with the enclosed reloadable and removable bin.

The Pitch. The video for the $20,000 campaign, which doesn’t shy from playing on viewers’ emotions for funding, aims clearly at those with busy lives who see their dog as being more than just their stay-at-home pet. It’s quickly revealed that the product was invented by a poised 14-year-old, a pretty impressive feat even if she did get a bit of help from Dad with the details.

The Perks. There are eight tiers from which backers may choose. The $99 early bird special offers a complete product, plus Fido’s name in computer monitor lights via a listing as a Founding Pet who helped bring the project into the lives of other struggling doggies and their grateful owners. The estimated delivery is May 2014 for all levels.

The Potential. iCPooch could be useful to any smartphone vidchatter who feels that their dog needs a little extra tender loving care and a little less privacy. However, it seems that trusted neighbors might be able to check in occasionally to calm an anxious pet until its human family can get home. iCPooch appears to be a one-of-a-kind product that can make a dog’s life a bit less of a dog’s life when you’re away.


Litter Pro gets the scoop out of the loop

The Premise. Cats can be a joy to have around the house. Anyone who has cared for them, though, knows that it’s not all fun and games. Cleaning a litter box is a chore that most people will admit to not being a fan of, yet it’s an essential part of owning a cat. It’s not only time-consuming, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a bit gross as well.

The Product. It’s called the Litter Pro, and it’s being billed as a fast, no-mess device to help streamline cleaning a litter box. Essentially a large strainer that sits atop a five-gallon bucket, the Litter Pro allows the user to simply dump their entire litter box in, as opposed to cleaning it with a scoop. Once the waste is strained, the litter can be returned to the box for a fresh, mess-free start.

The Pitch. One can sympathize with the Litter Pro’s creator; there’s really no appealing way to demonstrate a cat waste product. Right from the start, though, you can tell something is up with the pitch. The video makes an example out of what it already calls and “unlikely scenario” in which a cleaning job could take a great deal of time. In reality, though, everyone who has a cat knows that regular maintenance requires just a scoop or two and can be done in seconds. The video is a bit crudely thrown together, too, which doesn’t necessarily help things at all.

The Perks. The base Litter Pro package (shipping in May 2014) starts out at $25, which seems fair enough as an entry-level price for the system. Things get a bit odd with the perks for this campaign, however. Higher-tier prizes include cat posters and t-shirts, for example, which at least apply to the product. For $500, however, the campaign leader will repair your computer for you(?). Or, if you happen to be Petco, you can order 100 Litter Pros for $1,500. It’s clear that the developer is trying every approach possible to reach the rather unreasonable $30,000 goal.

The Potential. It’s not uncommon for cat lovers to lavish large amounts of money on their fury friends, but usually it’s for things that are actually useful. In many ways, using the Litter Pro appears to be more work than simply staying up with typical litter box maintenance. For those who have a number of cats, it may find some use. Most cat owners, though, will do best by simply sticking with a normal scoop, and may even end up making less of a mess. Of course, there’s always the option of toilet training.

Connected Objects Pets

Best Fit Friend puts more woof in your workout

The Premise. Humans and canines are alike in that we all need regular exercise. Unfortunately, today the majority of people as well as their beloved pets are not getting the amount of exercise recommended for a healthy, active lifestyle. Having a partner in exercise can make things a bit easier, but people can sometimes be unreliable.

The Product. MyFitDog is a heath and fitness company that has created a way for dog owners to get fit alongside their furry friends. The Best Fit Friend (BFF) is a pair of Bluetooth-enabled activity monitors worn like a wristwatch on the owner, with the other clipped to the dog’s collar. Using the MyFitDog app on your Android or iOS smartphone, you may track the amount and intensity of your movement and even compare data, set goals, and interact with other Best Fit Friend owners.

The Pitch. Tianyi Joe Zhu, the founder and CEO of MyFitDog, is featured in a goofball video that includes commentary from his (presumed) dog Cooper. Between the schtick that runs a bit too long, Zhu explains the consequences of dogs not getting enough exercise, which include more trips to the vet’s office and possibly an early demise. He also explains how frustrating it can be for the average person trying to get fit via crazy fad diets and intense exercise programs that are impossible to keep up with.

He concludes that the only logical way to really make a change in your (and your dog’s) daily habits is to embark (sorry, pun intended) on the journey together with Best Fit Friend. Scrolling through the page you will see images of the different components of Best Fit Friend, screen shots of the MyFitDog app and more commercials for Best Fit Friend done by the funny “Hollywood team.” If the initial product video didn’t introduce enough of Tianyi’s personality, click the Vimeo link to one of his previous pitches. The project goal is $30,000 total.

The Perks. For $99 you receive a set of Best Fit Friend devices (one for the owner, the other for the dog). For an additional $49 ($148 total) you may receive an extra device for either an additional owner or additional dog. One generous backer willing to donate $5,000 will receive a full Best Fit Friend set, an additional device, and will even have the opportunity to star in the next MyFitDog commercial.  The final product is expected to retail for between $100 and $120 with estimated shipping in May 2014.

The Potential. Best Fit Friend will be tasked with drumming up supporters who need to be motivated enough to start a fitness plan for themselves and their pets. While tracking the intensity and amount of exercise is a solid way to measure exercise, it seems challenging to set a pace which would achieve goal rates of intensity for both you and your pup simultaneously. Still, it addresses a common problem that many Americans and their dogs face today – how to stay motivated to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. While Voyce is aiming at a more comprehensive set doggie data for you to analyze, Whistle is another activity monitor and (iOS-only for now) app for dogs (not people) which is available today for about $130.

Organization Pets

P.U.P wants the group in for doggie poopin’

PUP2Project creator Momo and her company HawtPaws have created the P.U.P, a “dog leash waste management system” that holds bags for cleaning up the discarded droppings of man’s best friend. At no point in the narration-free video do we learn what P.U.P stands for, although Pick Up Poop might be a good guess. The feminine-leaning handmade pooch poo pouches come in a range of six colors and serve as an alternative to plastic models sold in pet stores. P.U.P seems like a candidate for Etsy, but 12 are being made available in each of six different styles for $12 each.

Connected Objects Pets

Bluetooth-connected app control brings color to the collar

The Premise. Nighttime can be rough for dog owners — especially owners of skittish dogs. If a dog runs away under the veil of night, how are you supposed to bring it back to safety?

The Product. A team in Boulder, CO has created a Bluetooth LED dog collar to hopefully make these situations less stressful. While still early in its development and may be useful for those who own multiple dogs, it seems a bit trivial in the grand scheme of things. Upon first glance, the generically named collar looks like any other dog collar save for the LED studs. Once activated via the smartphone app that it talks to, however, the collar quickly illuminates, becoming something out of a science fiction movie. You can create custom profiles for each dog, ensuring that you know who is where if you’re dealing with multiple animals at once. The collar is waterproof and runs off of standard AA batteries. The custom profiles feature is perhaps the most valuable part of the offering. It allows you to create a digital dog tag, and you can share your profiles with others via the Web.

The Pitch. The very basic video — music, poor lighting and artifact-filled audio — sets up the idea that the project owners view the dog collar as something of a frivolous stepping stone before moving on to bigger and better things. The campaign page goes on to show closeups of the product and accompanying Android app; there’s no iPhone support for now.

The Perks. Because the collar uses Bluetooth, it’s perfect for those who use smartphones on a daily basis.  Due to ship in March 2014, the collar will ship to backers for #30.

The Potential. For fawning owners of finicky dogs, this could be a fun product that might end up getting a lot of use. Turn your dog’s collar green for Christmas and orange on Halloween, or  your favorite team’s color on game day. For a connected product, it’s pretty inexpensive and one could easily see it or something like it showing up on the shelves of Petco.