Do it Fur Fido! Play with Dogs and Cats Remotely with Petcube

By David Knight |

You would never leave a small child at home alone all day – yet we’re more than happy to do exactly that with cats and dogs. Not quite the same thing, of course, but it’s still surprising that no one has come up with a way for you to interact with your pets while you’re at work. Nobody, that is, until a Ukrainian startup came along and seemingly solved the problem at a, um, stroke.

Petcube does exactly what is says on the tin – it’s a square gadget with a video camera and moveable laser pointer which enables you to watch, talk and play with your pet from afar.

The cube also contains a microcomputer which connects to your home wifi, and there is a smartphone app through which you can follow the video stream and share it with friends, family and the general public. There are even plans to allow you to play with pets from shelters if you don’t have a Fido or Felix of your own at home.

The Petcube team were in Berlin this week to showcase a prototype of their device at Seedcamp, allowing other participants to remotely play with a chihuahua belonging to one of the founders. With work ongoing on the hardware and on the iOS app, the team are planning to launch a kickstarter campaign as soon as the device is ready for launch, probably late summer or early autumn.

Kiev native Alex Neskin is the original inventor of the cube and now the CTO of its startup. He came up with the gadget to use with his own dog and it was only later that he decided to turn it onto a business. The team is hoping to latch on to the ‘Internet of things’ wave of smart devices permanently connected to the Internet which can be easily accessed via mobile – other examples include the Nest and Tado heating control devices and the Jawbone UP wristband.

Petcube co-founder and CEO Yaroslav Azhnyuk told Silicon Allee: “People treat pets like their family; a lot of owners even call themselves ‘pet parents’. You already have a phone in your pocket to call your five-year old son, but what about your cat or dog? Pets are bored at home as well. Research shows 20 percent of American pet owners leave TV turned on so their pets don’t feel lonely. There are even dedicated TV channels for cats and dogs. It may sound ridiculous unless you see your dog’s sad eyes, each time returning back home. We want to change that.”

And that sounds fur enough.