We’ve seen all manner of gadgets for pets promising fun and interaction, but PlayDate (which has already reached 160% of its goal on Indiegogo) is pretty much the dog’s bollocks. This clever toy allows you to not only play with and see your pet from anywhere via your iOS or Android device, but also gives you control over the ball, so you can follow Fido or Mittens around the house! Oh, and did we mention the remote control squeaker? Um yep, sh*t just got real!
Created by engineer and computer scientist Kevin Li, along with co-founder Anthony Chien (who between them have a PhD, 36 patents and MBA), PlayDate is a new generation of smart pet toy that encourages interaction between pet and owner, even when you can not physically be together.
Imagine you’re at work and wonder how your furry friend is doing at home. You grab your phone and open the PlayDate app. Back in your apartment, the smart ball turns on and you guide it remotely to your pet (I know, we are living in the future here people). You watch your pet via video while they dart around chasing the ball, take photos and video, and the microphone means you can even talk to your pet while you play! Surely your boss will be ok with you taking a 5 minute ‘playdate break’ at work, right?
The idea for PlayDate started out as an activity tracker, but Kevin soon realised that owners were less interested in monitoring their pets daily activity and more keen to actually interact with them.
“We started thinking about PlayDate about two years ago. I had just adopted Hulk, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, from a no-kill shelter and became obsessed with training him. This was back in 2013 and there weren’t any activity trackers for dogs on the market. At the time I was a researcher at AT&T Labs, so I built a dog tracking collar and strapped it onto Hulk for our walks around the city.
“But as I talked to more and more dog owners, I realised what they were clamouring for wasn’t another way to track the activity for their dogs. Instead, the feedback kept coming back that they felt guilty leaving their dogs home alone all day. That’s when I realised the bigger problem that needed solving was dog owners needed a better way to interact with their pets remotely.”
And this cool gizmo is not just for dogs. “As we started building out prototypes and showing them to our friends, we learned that cat owners love the idea too. But cat owners have slightly different needs so we’ve been modifying the design of the cat version for their needs,” explains Li.
So are you picking up what PlayDate are puttin down? If you like the sound of this tech toy, you better get in tout suite. The early engraved models are already sold out on Indiegogo, but you can still get your mitts on the Indiegogo Special for USD$149, which is still less than the $249 retail cost. See more at startplaydate.com.
What do you think of the PlayDate? Would your dog or cat love to play with it, and more importantly, would you?! Tell us in the comments below.