Do you own a dog or a cat and also hold down a job that takes you out of your house? Chances are that if you do, you’ve bemoaned a common challenge: how do you make sure your pet doesn’t get too lonely while you are away? A project called Doge Ball, presented today at the Disrupt SF 2016 Hackathon, has developed a new piece of hardware that could be the answer.
Part influenced by Sphero, and part influenced by connected consumer video products like the Nest Cam and baby monitors that let you watch and respond to your tots remotely, Doge Ball (a play on the Doge meme, but actually pronounced “Doggy Ball”, for Dog e-ball) is essentially a connected ball — in the demo version a hacked hamster running ball — that links up with an app on your phone. You use the app to make the ball move around to amuse your dog, and and you can prompt it to dispense a treat to your pet.
“We love our dog, and we decided to buy a Nest Cam to see what our own dog was doing while we were away all day, and to try to talk to her, but she didn’t really respond,” said James Xu, one of Doge Ball’s three developers. “So we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have something that you could use to play with her?” Xu’s day job is at Nvidia, and while a lot of people bring their pets to work at the office, he said he couldn’t because his dog, an adoptee from a rescue home, found the crowds too stressful.
“We’ve all had similar scenarios with our pets for 15 years,” added Anthony Alayo, another one of the developers. While the Doge Ball could also work with cats, “dogs are the most needy even if they provide the most rewards.” read more…