What a time to be alive! Today, through the festival of overactive imaginations and bored geniuses known as CES, we discovered the next big thing in video conferencing. It is a technological achievement that will change the world of video conferencing through human / pet interaction.

I am talking of course about new inventions to enable pets to join the bold new world of video conferencing. You read that correctly; last month Peter Gabriel extended video communication to chimpanzees, and this month our faithful home companion animals can join the party. Admittedly, I was skeptical at how chimps would use the technology, but they seem to be doing great (after all, there is only a 1.2% difference in DNA between chimps and humans).

app_features_details_unhfmePlaydate passed their funding goal for a remote-controlled toy ball/live streaming camera that lets you play with your pets wherever you are. Instead of talking to your pet or dispensing treats, you can distract them from separation anxiety through play. Let’s just hope the ball is as durable as it is fun.

The PetChatz (the z is a critical branding element), is a “two-way video conferencing system for pets and their owners”. You install the device in your home and it rings a bell to initiate a video call where you have the option of dispensing a treat to gain your pet’s attention and notify them that their benevolent and bored owner is calling. The hovering pet owner can then enjoy watching them eat the treat and speak superlatives in high-quality baby voice with video. There is an optional attachment that allows the pet to press a button and dispense their own treat AND initiate a call TO the owner! This is such a good idea that I don’t even have a rating high enough for it. The $380 for the main PetChatz HD unit and the mere $100 for the PawCall attachment makes this product an easy one to add to my next Christmas list. Obligatory video.

The competing PetCube product adds a fifth dimension to the pet communication industry; it allows you to play with your pet via a controllable laser pointer. Seriously, I am no longer even thinking of the PetChatz. My cat and dog would literally be fighting over the ability to call me and get me to play with the laser pointer. They freaking love that stupid little light. And no more will they have to wait until I am free and bored enough to initiate their favorite game. At less than half the price of the PetChatz, the PetCube ($199) is the clear winner for me at first glance, but I would really need play with them to be sure. I literally cannot wait for that day.

 

But seriously, these products could have some umm… useful applications. For instance, you could train your dog (or cat, maybe) to react to a burglar not by barking, but instead by clicking a video call where you can then yell at the offending party (or call the police, whatever works for you).

In the end, the real reason I am writing this blog is obviously to be sent one (or both) of these marvels so that I can test them out and write another blog. Can you hear me over there at PetChatz and PetCube? I am ready, available, and fully qualified to settle the dispute between your competing technologies. I have an audience of hundreds, potentially thousands, of people who are already bought into video conferencing as a superior form of communication.

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