#Caturday: Kitten Cam lets you play with cats online

by 1389 on June 14, 2014

in 1389 (blog admin), Caturday, tech industry

Daily Mail (UK): Kitten cam! The hit site that lets you play with cats online and remotely control their toys

(h/t: Eagle Soars)

iPet controller hardware
Each shelter has a set of controllers and a webcam which link to the system,
allowing them to easily add online capabilities.

iPet toy in use
Kitten cam! Cats at a shelter in the US play with the Internet-controlled toys

  • System installed in ten animal shelters across the US
  • Allows anyone to move cat toys and see the results
  • Being installed in children’s hospital to allow children to play remotely
  • Helps relieve boredom for the animals, and has boosted adoption rates

By MARK PRIGG

Cat pictures have become a staple of the internet, but one robotics firm is bring real felines online with an internet connected cat toy and webcam.

Idaho firm has already installed its system in 10 animals shelters across the US, letting anyone play with cats via the system.

Users join a virtual queue, and can then control three toys and a webcam in the enclosure.

The system was developed by Idaho firm ReachIn.

‘The idea came from the ability to move anything over the web,’ Scott Harris of the firm told MailOnline.

‘We started working on the technical side of remote control, and then an engineer went home to work on arm overnight.

The next day he came in, took me to one side and said he’d been moving the arm, and his cat had started playing with it.

He admitted he then hadn’t got any work done and spent the evening watching the cat play – so I thought we might be on to something.’

The firm contacted a local animals shelter and worked with them to build three toys. In May 2012, the first catcam went online, and was a huge success.

Now the firm plans to expand the idea after huge interest from shelters.

Users from 90 countries played within 2 weeks playing, and adoption rates went up 57% at shelters, said Harris.

The firm is now trying to work out how to fund the systems after over 300 charities got in touch wanting it.

‘it costs us to build these things and maintain them, and 317 shelters have requested it, so we are working with as many as we can.’

The firm hopes to develop a low cost version costing around $200 for shelters, but admits the R&D costs are currently too high.

‘We are trying to work out a way to make it happen,’ said Mr Harris.

The firm also installed computers in a children’s hospital to allow patients to play remotely, a project Mr Harris described as ‘a real tear jerker.’

Expected to be operational in May, the iPet Companion system will connect to 162 Wolfson hospital rooms at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville via the GetWell Network, which provides Internet access.

The system will use high-speed data networks, high-definition cameras and interactive toys to allow patients in isolation to play remotely with kittens and cats being sheltered at the Jacksonville Humane Society.

‘Children in isolation will benefit the most from our iPet program, especially our Bone Marrow Transplant patients because they can’t get a visit from our Pet Therapy Program dogs,’ says Wolfson Children’s Family Support Services Manager Pat Kirkland, who wrote the grant application to Mattel, which is funding the system.

‘At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, about 20% of our patients are on isolation at some time during their stay, so this is an important addition to our Child Life program.’

More here.

Play here!

Note: If lights in the shelter are out and all the kitties are asleep, they might not notice the moving toys. Try again later!

 

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