It is a familiar scene in our household ... early each morning our Maltese poodle and toy poodle scratch at the front door to alert the humans in the house that they are ready to go outside. Very obligingly, a human slides out of bed and lets the two dogs out to play.
With impeccably perfect timing, just as said human is back in bed and about to doze off again, the dogs decide that they have had enough of the outside world and alert their servants inside the house that they are now ready to return to the internal environment.
If only there was a technology solution! Who am I kidding? Of course there is a technology solution.
Despite the apocryphal story that Isaac Newton invented the pet-flap in 1700, the old-fashioned physical flap has been around for a millennium or more.
But I am not much of a fan of cutting a hole in a door that gives free access to my pets - and any other animal (or small human) that happens to be able to fit through the same hole.
Enter technology. A range of pet sized doors are now available that use either a microchip or Bluetooth collar to allow access through a door by authorised pets.
As your pet approaches the door, the microchip is read by the pet door and unlocks the door to allow the pet to enter or exit.
Stopping at that point would be good but you may want your pets to have free access during the day but you want them inside overnight. Program the pet door to allow two-way access for daylight hours, but block exit and only allow entry when the sun goes down.
You can receive an alert each time a specific animal enters or exits the building or if you don't want your pets controlling the door, you can control access via your smartphone.
A live video feed can alert you whenever there is motion on either side of the door. Some models come in a traditional flap style while others have motorised sliding shutters.
If you can think of it, there is a pretty good chance that there is a pet door with the features you want.
The pet-tech market will make up $US10 billion [this year] ... and the industry involves so much more than just pet doors.
It seems like a lot of technology for a household pet, but the pet industry is huge. The global pet-care market will be worth $US260 billion this year. Of that, the pet-tech market will make up $US10 billion. And the industry involves so much more than just pet doors.
The wearables market for humans is exploding with expected sales of $US40 billion this year, but the pet wearables market is exploding as well. Track the location of your pet with a GPS collar to make sure you never lose your pet. Better still, track how far your dog travels, its sleep time and calories burned to ensure your pet is undertaking sufficient activity and maintains a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to see what your pet is doing as they explore the neighbourhood, attach a pet camera to their collar and view their activities when they return to the house. And when they return to the house, you can feed them remotely via your smartphone with a smart feeder. Also record the amount of food and water your pet consumes and order food automatically at appropriate trigger levels.
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With electronic collars, pet cameras, smart feeders, video chats, electronic toys ... the list goes on ... there is no doubt that pet technology is big business with no signs of decline.
Tell me the one technology item you want for your pet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mathew Dickerson is a technologist and futurist and the founder of several technology start-ups.