I continue to be impressed with how technology exponentially expands the possibilities for entertainment and leisure –- for dogs. Crowdfunding campaigns have successfully launched (pun intended) the iFetch and countless other high-tech dog toys. I’m excited to share with you an active Kickstarter campaign that looks like it will be funded way ahead of its goal, so you’ve still got time to make a pledge and preorder a unit.
CleverPet is an electronic game for your dog that rewards her craftiness with kibble. Designed for one-dog households, CleverPet will entertain your dog in your absence, while stimulating her mind and slowly feeding her throughout the day. It uses positive reinforcement to engage your dog in playing increasingly challenging games, beefing up the level of difficulty as your dog learns.
CleverPet is a low-profile console constructed to resist being chewed or toppled over. It features silicone touch pads that light up in dog-visible colors. Initially, your dog is rewarded with kibble randomly to pique her interest. The next level requires her to simply touch any pad to get a reward. Once she’s got that down, she will get kibble if she touches the lighted pad.
At the fourth level of difficulty and beyond, CleverPet becomes a kind of Simon for your dog (children of the ‘70s and ‘80s, you know what I’m talking about!). For example, in one game, your dog must press the pads when the pads’ colors change. The goal of another game is to press the pad that is a different color than the other two. The games can become pretty advanced. For example, you can record your own voice saying, “touch left” or “touch right,” and your dog must follow the instruction correctly to claim her reward.
The cleverest of humans can customize CleverPet by writing code for new games. Check out CleverPet’s Kickstarter page for more info.
Because CleverPet connects to WiFi, smartphone users can download an app that allows you to monitor your dog’s progress through CleverPet’s gauntlet of games. You can receive reminders when she levels up. You can also set a schedule for the days and times when CleverPet is active and ready to play.
CleverPet’s Kickstarter page is one of the most detailed I’ve seen. You can view renderings of the internal mechanics of CleverPet and read about some of the challenges its designers overcame. I am particularly impressed by their dedication to creating a toy that is safe for dogs to use unsupervised, as that would be my main concern when considering purchasing CleverPet.
If you help fund CleverPet’s Kickstarter campaign with a pledge of $159 or more, you’ll receive your CleverPet in February of 2015. That’s a huge savings on the estimated $279 retail cost. The Kickstarter campaign ends on June 1
What do you think, Dogster readers? Check out CleverPet’s Kickstarter page, and then share your thoughts about the CleverPet and other high-tech dog toys in the comments below.
Disclosure: Dogster’s founder, Ted Rheingold, is an advisor for the CleverPet team.
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About the Author: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its microclimates, farmers’ markets, and secret stairway walks. When she’s not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace’s adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.