What would a computer look like if a dog invented it? Erick Eidus is building PupPod to find out.
The new Bellevue-based company is launching a Kickstarter later this month to raise capital for its first dog-oriented computer. Right now, the device is a WiFi-connected toy that through sound and lights encourages the dog to interact with it. When the dog performs the desired interaction with the toy, a treat is dispensed, providing positive reinforcement for the desired dog-action.
According to the ASPCA, approximately 37 -47 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog, with a estimated 70 million to 80 million dogs as pets in the U.S. That’s quite a large market. Eidus said condominium residents where dogs don’t have access to a dog door and yard are the most likely users.
“A big part of the vision is helping dogs reach their full intellectual potential. There are so many dogs sitting at home bored and need a tool to help them live the most happy and fulfilled life that they can,” said Eidus, PupPod’s CEO.
Eidus is out to settle a few problems with PupPod, not the least of which is the difference between dogs and their humans at the end of the day. If a dog owner is at work for eight or 10 hours a day, the dog is typically home either sleeping or very bored. When the owner walks in the door, dealing with low energy after a long day at the office, the dog is more than excited to see its owner, and has very high energy. One of PupPod’s goals is to find an equilibrium between the two.
“Potentially, you come home from work and the dog also has been working at the toy and puzzles all day, and you can have a more mellow time hanging out at the end of the day,” Eidus said.
Another aspect of PupPod taps into the dogs ability to self-learn tasks, such as potty training, and service dog-type actions, like turning off the light switch and closing the door.
“We’re going to find all kinds of skills that they can learn, they just need a tool so they can self-learn for all the dogs that don’t get all that human time for training,” Eidus said.
PupPods mobile app enables dog parents to watch the dog interact with the toy via video feed, as well as alter the game, giving the owner a sense of interacting with the dog even when they aren’t home.
Eidus’ background involves more than 10 years of consulting on user-experience design, and he said the skills of being able to put yourself in the shoes of who you are designing for are the same skills he’s been using to get into the minds of the dogs.
Five years down the road, Eidus hopes that PupPod as a platform will have matured, and they will have developed many different games and toys for different breeds and ages. “There’s tons of potential to build out this product, this is a new product category, and we’re on this mission to expand this category,” Eidus said.