Some dogs have a harder time being left alone than others. Owners of more anxious breeds know of the destruction that a nervous or bored dog can cause, but what if you could periodically check in with your dog during the day and give it the occasional treat? Maybe it would make your pet's day a little better and probably yours too.
That's just what 14-year-old Brooke Martin of Spokane, Washington thought when she invented the iCPooch, a device that lets you videochat with your pet as well as give it treats through an automatic dispenser, after her family adopted an anxious Golden Retriever puppy.
"She would always get really upset whenever we left her at home. She seemed depressed and sometimes she would get destructive with the furniture," said Martin.
"I really wanted a way to connect with her while we were gone and let her know that it was OK and calm her down during the day. I always video chat with my family and friends, so I figured why not my dog?"
Martin isn't the first inventor to come up with a way to use technology to make pet ownership easier. We've also seen a Raspberry Pi dog treat dispenser that spits out a treat when you email a specific address as well as a Raspberry Pi hack that opens the door whenever your dog barks to be let out (or in).
Martin just presented her gadget at the GeekWire Summit at the beginning of the month. Users must have a smartphone or tablet to place in the device. She says dogs do respond to the video calls.
"So I can tell my dog to sit, she'll sit, to lay down, she absolutely knows what it does, that it delivers her a treat," said Martin.
After building a prototype, she was able to get enough interest to get a team of software pros, designers and others to help come up with a finished product. You can buy the iCPooch for $129 through her website and she hopes to have it on retail shelves by the holiday season.