A box for spying on your pet

A box for spying on your pet

Gizmo ZONE : Concerned leaving your pet home alone? Petzi could be the answer

A box for spying on your pet

Every morning I look into the eyes of my 18-month-old cat, Betty, declare my love for her, tell her I’ll miss her, and wave goodbye for the day. I then lock the door and go to the office. This need no longer be a tearful adieu. Thanks to the Indiegogo-funded Petzi, animal owners can check in on their furry creatures anytime, anywhere.

The gadget is a slightly ominous looking plastic box with a webcam. When it is turned on, a pink light shines, accompanied by a chirpy bell sound: the friendly face of surveillance. It can snap pictures, let you speak to your pet, and spit out treats with a crunchy mechanical whir. There’s a nifty night-view mode that makes your pet’s eyes gleam demonically.

The box connects to your home Wi-Fi via your mobile phone  — some initial hiccoughs about registration numbers are quickly fixed — and can be accessed using the Petzi app.
If your friends are sick of seeing pictures of your precious furball on social media, you can upload screenshots on to the app’s garishly coloured Instagram-like board and “like” other pet pictures with hearts (or “Awwws”).

At my desk, I occasionally tune into the webcam and repeatedly play the bell sound. No cat. I find an isolated corner of the office and try out the voice function; there’s no response, but I do feel one step closer to becoming a crazy cat lady.

The only thing that elicits a response is treats: Betty may be lazy, but she knows the sound of food. I excitedly show the cat to my colleagues, who respond with mild interest and bemusement.

The gadget is also a nice idea if you’re far away from a pet: if it lives with your parents or you travel a lot. With adjustable treat levels and an extra element of play, so that not all interaction is food based, it could be a fun way for pet owners to gently stalk their furry friends.