Omama Altaleb, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON — A San Francisco-based startup company looking to help keep pets healthy and entertained is set to release a device that allows pet owners to watch, play and communicate with their pets through the smartphone application Petcube.
The cube, a 4-inch aluminum-glass box, which includes a microphone, camera, speakers, Wi-Fi capability and a low-intensity laser pointer for games, became the most funded pet product on Kickstarter, raising more than $250,000 in November.
Petcube Inc., winner of the MacWorld’s “6 about to break” startup competition — released its Instagram-esque, free iPhone app in March, enabling smartphone users to connect with other pet owners and upload photos of their pets to Facebook and Twitter.
Once the cube is released in August, pet owners will have control over the device from afar via the app. The app will allow pet owners to play laser games with their pets, and post videos and photos taken from the cube.
“The coolest thing about (the device) is that you can actually take your phone with you at any time and see what your pet is doing,” says Daria Staverska, communication manager at Petcube Inc.
Because the app is open to everyone, users are not required to own a Petcube to play with other pets, as long as they have downloaded the application.
Pet owners control with whom they share photos and videos and can keep them private. They can share photos and videos on the Petcube network.
The device has hardware and software security features to protect the privacy of the user.
“You can always control your Petcube from the app and decide if you want to share the access to your pet with anyone,” Staverska says.
In April, the startup plans on placing 12 Petcubes in San Francisco-area pet shelters to allow app users to play with lonely, rescued animals.
“We don’t think that the Petcube can replace a real face-to-face interaction with your pet, and it isn’t supposed to do so. It can save your pet from loneliness and it helps you stay closer to your beloved friend when you are far away,” she says.
The device costs $199 and is set to ship in August — three months after the initial release date — due to a technical delay to improve the product and fix glitches.
Android users will be able to download the app before the official release of the Petcube device.
The startup continues to work on adding new features such as integrating Petcube with other smart gadgets for pets, Staverska says.
“We hope that people will love the experience of being closer to their furry friends, and that they will share this experience with their friends,” Staverska says.
Check out Petcube’s blog for regular updates on the production and release of this new device.