The "pet wellness" revolution has changed the way we view our pets forever -- as members of the family. It has also changed how (and how often) we want to interact with them. According to the New York Times, as pet-owners become more willing to spend time with -- and money on -- their pets, digital device manufacturers are offering more and more gadgets that allow people and animals to be "together" virtually all the time:
Wearable pet activity trackers keep tabs on Bella's or Bear's exercise. Some go further, monitoring dogs' heart and respiratory rates and tracking locations in case they escape their homes...
[And] more wearable tech for pets is on the way. Already on sale is a collar device called Tagg that combines activity monitoring with location tracking to help recover lost pets. Voyce, an activity tracker available later this year, also monitors a dog's heart and respiratory rates.
In addition to activity monitors, webcams are also allowing people to interact with their pets from afar throughout the day. One device, called Dropcam, allows pet-owners to talk to their pets via a wireless security camera and microphone while they're away. But that's just the beginning for interactive gadgets:
A device called Petcube, coming out in May, combines a webcam, microphone and speakers with a low-intensity laser pointer, the direction of which can be controlled remotely through a smartphone. Owners will be able to play games with their cats and dogs using the laser, assuming the animals are receptive to the idea of chasing a bright red light around a room.
But, as veterinary behaviorist Margaret Gruen told the Times, devices like Petcube could lead to compulsive behavior in some animals, which might not otherwise be seen without this kind of digital intervention. "When [pets] can't see [their owners], will that be confusing or comforting?" Gruen said. "I don't think we know yet." And with regard to the question of who these pet-tracking devices really serve -- pets or people -- it seems the answer is the same.