Man’s best friend is smart. His toys, not so much… until now.
For dog owners, do you ever wonder what your pup does when you’re away? Or maybe you do know because you’ve had the experience of coming home to destroyed furniture, garbage strewn on the floor, and… an anxious dog. This destructive behavior has been attributed to separation anxiety in dogs, so what can you do to keep your best friend from feeling lonely? Canine owner and software designer Erick Eidus has a solution.
Meet PupPod, an interactive, self-learning pet toy that helps reduce boredom, anxiety and destructive behavior in dogs, while also helping them learn new skills when you’re out for the day. Eidus had conceived the idea after he started thinking of games from a dog’s perspective and how pet parents could better understand their pet, check in on them and even interact with them when at work. He brought this idea to an Arduino meet-up, and it materialized in just 48 hours. After testing over 250 dogs across five prototypes, the Maker and his team are now ready to make PupPod available to a community of pilot users.
PupPod is a smart platform that is wirelessly connected to a treat dispenser, video camera and an accompanying mobile app. The unit offers a new use of the operant conditioning method by having your dog play multi-level games and earn treat rewards. You can stream live video, make decisions in the game, trigger treats remotely and record videos. You can also review your dog’s progress, monitor and set limits to treat/food rewards, as well as understand what they’re learning all through your own doggy dashboard. Aside from that, the gives you access to a growing PupPod community and a leaderboard so you can compare your four-legged companion to your friends or other dogs of similar age and breed.
Built around the LightBlue Bean (ATmega328P), the PupPod is comprised of three components: an incredibly tough and durable Kong Wobbler to house the toy; a PupPod Hub which includes a 720p HD camera, Bluetooth integration and a RaspberryPi B+ to send data and video to the PupCloud; and a treat dispenser. The platform employs a motion sensor to detect when your dog comes near and emits sounds from an internal speaker to get your dog’s attention. The toy communicates with the PupPod Hub over Wi-Fi and uses an accelerometer to sense motion when it’s touched.
Eidus and his team have just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign, and hope to get the first batch of toys out come February. Interested in one of your own? Check out PupPod’s official page here.