Pet owners who want to get an up-close look at their furry friends during playtime now get to do so, thanks to PlayDate.
The gadget, which looks like a simple toy ball, is embedded with an interactive high-definition camera that gives pet owners a unique glimpse of their puppy or kitty. As the ball rolls around, it captures video of the animal in action.
PlayDate was created by Kevin Li and Anthony Chien. As the story goes, Li adopted a young Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix named Hulk, and he instantly wanted to ensure that he was getting the exercise he needed each day.
"There weren't any activity trackers on the market, so I built one using the latest activity recognition and localization techniques used in research and started tracking him around the city," Li said. "As he got older, this became less of an issue. Talking to other dog owners, we realized there were no good ways for pet owners to interact with their pets remotely."
Insert PlayDate. The ball not only gives pet owners a new look at their pets in action, but allows them to keep their animals moving. PlayDate can be controlled via iOS or Android device with the official app. A directional touchpad lets pet owners control the ball as it rolls around, and the toy also includes a microphone. This means that pet owners can talk to their furry friend via PlayDate, regardless of where they may be.
Perhaps this is the biggest perk of PlayDate — pet playtime from afar. Dog and cat owners may not always be home to entertain their animals. Now, PlayDate offers the opportunity to interact, even when the pet and pet owner can't be in the same room.
"Technological advances seem to have somehow skipped over our four-legged companions," Li continued. "We can get almost anything delivered to our door in less than an hour, FaceTime with relatives halfway across the world or book a driver in two minutes. But when it comes to interacting with man's best friend, it's through a nylon leash and a tennis ball. That's what's missing in the pet world today. We set out to solve that problem."
PlayDates will be delivered to Indiegogo donors and pet lovers by the end of 2016.
Here's the PlayDate in action: