Posts with «pets» label

This dog tracker from Invoxia can also detect your pet's abnormal heart rhythms

Nowadays, there are already plenty of choices when it comes to pet trackers, and some can even monitor heart rate, but apparently none could detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) until now. At CES 2024, GPS tracker specialist Invoxia unveiled the Minitailz, the world's first pet tracker that can keep an eye out for early heart disease symptoms on your cats or dogs. Together with other vital stats and activity log, the companion app then uses conversational generative AI to generate easy-to-read reports on your pets.

According to the French company, Minitailz is able to track respiratory and heart vitals with an accuracy of 97 to 99 percent, thanks to its advanced biometric sensors combined with AI. Using deep learning algorithms, the set of data is then used to spot digital biomarkers that indicate stress, aging and pathologies. The device can also differentiate the types of movements, such as walks, runs and zoomies, as well as alerting you when your pets wander beyond your preset geofences.

Photo by Richard Lai / Engadget

The Minitailz module houses a built-in SIM card for LTE-M connectivity, which enables real-time tracking in conjunction with GPS. This can be attached to any pet collar, which is an advantage over many competing devices that are stuck inside a physical neckband, according to Invoxia.

The Minitailz is already available for dogs via Invoxia's website for $99, followed by a cat version due in March for the same price. You'll also need to buy a subscription starting from $8.30 per month.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Flappie AI cat door stops your pet from gifting you dead mice

Finding weird pet-related technology is a CES tradition, and this year is no exception. Take Flappie, for example. The Swiss start-up is showing off an AI-powered cat door that automatically locks if your kitty tries to bring in prey it caught from the outside. 

On the side of the door facing the outside, you'll find a motion sensor and night-vision camera. Flappie says it has compiled a "unique and proprietary" dataset over the years, with a focus on diversity — this means getting lots of different kinds of cats as well as prey, filmed in a variety of different lighting conditions. The company says that its AI-powered detection system is accurate more than 90 percent of the time, which means your cat could still get a mouse inside. But hopefully that'll happen a lot less frequently. 

There are some manual switches on the inside of the door so you can lock and unlock it any time you want as well as turn off the prey-detection system. Eventually, Flappie says that pets are likely to be trained that they can't enter when carrying something, and when they drop the prey the door will promptly unlock so they can get inside. (One of Flappie's co-founders admitted that a smart cat might figure out to drop the mouse, get the door open, pick it back up and then run in. But no solution is foolproof, right?)

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Flappie also included chip detection in its cat door. So if your pet has been microchipped, you can make it so the cat door only opens for your specific pet. And, of course, there's an app so you can control the door from your phone. But if you're not inclined to hook the Flappie door up to the internet, it'll still work via the controls on the door itself. 

For starters, Flappie plans to launch its pet door in Switzerland, Zurich and Germany later this spring, with plans to expand from there once it gets production scaled up. A US launch is part of the roadmap, but there's no word yet on when that'll happen, or how much the Flappie door might cost when it gets here.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ring announces a wearable for your lost pets that's just a QR code

Amazon’s Ring is mostly known for doorbell cams and consumer-grade surveillance tech, but the company’s moving past humans and onto our beloved furry friends. It just announced the Ring Pet Tag to help find lost pets, as the tag attaches to a collar and allows access to a bevy of digital information about the animal, should it wander away from the yard.

Here’s how it works. If you happen upon a lost pet wearing the Ring Pet Tag, flip the tag backwards and scan the QR code to find out who owns the animal, where they live, their phone number and relevant health information, such as required medications and the like. You can even contact the owner through the app and engage in a two-way conversation. Of course, all of this involves coaxing a scared dog or cat into allowing you access to that QR code, which could be problematic.

Though the tech on display is interesting, it’s worth noting what the device doesn’t feature. There’s no GPS, so no way to geolocate a lost pet. The tag also lacks a camera, which is a common feature for some pet accessories. It’s basically a QR code on a tag that provides the same kind of information that could simply be written onto a collar, though most collars don’t boast enough room to detail medication requirements and other unique data points. So it’s useful from a “all of your information in one place” standpoint.

The price, however, is right. The Ring Pet Tag costs just $10, which isn’t that much more than a standard analog tag with no scannable QR code to speak of. Preorders start today via Amazon and Ring, with shipments starting on October 4th.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Tile's latest accessory helps track your cat

Tile, best known for its AirTag-like trackers that help you locate lost objects, can now find something that can get lost on purpose — your cat. The $40 Tile for Cats tracker from Life360 is a modified version of the Tile Sticker with a silicon collar attachment and 250 foot Bluetooth range. The idea is to give you peace of mind that your cat is somewhere in the house, and then help you figure out exactly where that sneaky floof is hiding. 

The battery on the Tile for Cats lasts a generous three years, and you can easily replace the sticker. It even offers AI assistant integration with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, so you can locate Sir Fluffybutt with a voice command. 

For the $40 price tag, you get a Tile sticker and attachment that's compatible with most cat collars, including breakaway collars. The attachment can stretch up to 1.7 times without breaking and is water resistant, so it'll continue to function even if hit with a few drops. 

Tile for Cats is Life360's first pet tracker, though the company was already marketing its regular Tile Trackers for the same purpose. It's designed for indoor use only, though, due to the limited range. If you're worried about your pet getting lost outside, you'd be better off with a dedicated pet tracker, typically costing around $100 plus a subscription fee. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Litter Robot 4 review: A great, but imperfect, self-cleaning litter box

I'm just so tired of all the poop. Now that I'm dealing with three cats, an 11-month old's diapers and potty time with my four-year old, I just needed some relief from mountains of excrement. Enter the Litter Robot 4, the latest iteration of Whisker's automated litter box (a product we initially covered in 2005!). It's a small, spaceship-looking device that automatically rotates after your cat does its business, separating waste into a storage bin and leaving the remaining clean litter behind. Instead of scooping a box daily (or several times a day for multi-cat households), you only need to yank out the Litter Robot's bin bag and replace it with a new liner once a week. Sounds like a dream, right?

Well, mostly. For one, it's an eye-watering $699, putting it out of reach for most cat owners. And like practically every "smart" device, I ran into issues while setting up the Litter Robot 4. After a few months of testing, I've encountered many quirks – sometimes it didn't sift properly, occasionally its cat detecting sensors went haywire, and it didn't really prevent litter from reaching my floors. Despite all of that, though, it still made my life easier. Thanks to the Litter Robot 4, I had to deal with animal poop just a bit less every day. I'll chalk that up as a win.

As a cat owner since 2009, I've always eyed self-cleaning litter boxes with envy. But almost every option seemed like a headache back then: Some required specialized litter, others were prone to jamming and failure. And even though the Litter Robot has been around for a while, I've always considered it too expensive to be practical. But now that my household has grown, thanks to that aforementioned poopy infant and a pair of adopted kittens, I was eager for some relief. (One of those kittens also grew into an enormous 18-pound beast – you can imagine what his litter box looks like.)

I know several people who loved the Litter Robot 3, and it was generally well-reviewed, despite being simultaneously bulky on the outside and a bit too small for cats on the inside. The Litter Robot 4 improves on its predecessor with a sleeker design (it's a bit less wide, so it should fit better in small rooms), as well as a larger opening for big cats. It's also Wi-Fi connected, which makes it easy for you to check on litter and waste levels with Whisker's app. Thanks to new weight sensors, you can track how often your cats are using the Robot, and the company is also planning to launch more individualized tracking later this year. In theory, that should let you know if one of your cats is using the litter box too often, or not enough.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Setting up the Litter Robot 4 was fairly easy – until I ran into some software issues. You just have to yank the 24-pound egg-like bot out of its box, dump some clumping litter into the main compartment, and throw an included bag in the waste bin. The device itself is made entirely out of plastic, making it fairly light and easier to maneuver. The inner portion where the litter sits is covered in a rubber-like material, which should make it fairly durable and easier to clean than hard plastic.

After plugging in and turning on the Litter Robot, though, I was faced with my worst fear with any new smart gadget: Pairing issues. Without being paired to the app, the Robot wouldn't self-clean at all. A few hours of frustration later, I learned that Whisker was having a system-wide issue and I had to wait a few days for the company to deliver a fix.

So it goes with smart devices, you might say. But it definitely felt silly (and a bit enraging) to be manually cleaning this $699 litter box. Without that initial connectivity, it was no better than the $20 litter tray my cats use upstairs. Once the app was set, the Robot ran through a cleaning cycle and evenly sifted the remaining litter. Upon seeing this new litter box move and make sounds (it's surprisingly quiet!), my three cats wouldn't go near it. At that point, it was just a $699 monument to pet excess.

A few days later, the bravest of the bunch — my 18-pound tuxedo cat named "Jiji" — finally jumped into the Litter Robot to explore. After several hops in and out, he deemed it safe and left his first offering, which was promptly cycled into the waste bin. The Litter Robot seemed pleased. Within a week, all of my cats were onboard. And around then, I noticed something strange: I couldn't smell any poop or pee! Sure, the Whisker app told me the waste bin was full, but you wouldn't know that while standing right in front of it. That's a good sign for anyone who wants to place the Litter Robot in a cramped living room.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

My honeymoon period ended when one of my cats left a streak of feces inside the Robot. No amount of sifting and cycling got rid of that. Eventually, I started to notice some strange behavior from the device (perhaps in protest to what that cat did). Sometimes its indicator lights would flash red — a sensor fault, according to the Whisker app. The only way to fix that was by turning the unit on and off. Occasionally, the Robot wouldn't fully clean itself after one of my cats used it. So I had to hit the cycle button up top to get it going.

Over the course of a week, I typically have to deal with three of four issues like this from the Litter Robot. Few of those involve touching actual poop, and it's far less than I'd be cleaning a normal litter box. Still, for $699, I wish it were more reliable. I wouldn't trust it to work for an entire week if my family went on vacation. Just don't lose your cat sitter's number.

Cleaning out the Litter Robot's waste bin is a cinch — just yank out the liner bag and replace it with another. While you could stick with Whisker's products, I haven't had any trouble using Glad's 13-gallon ForceFlex bags. The company also recommends wiping down the Litter Robot's internals once a month, as well as refreshing the litter with an entirely new batch. That process isn't tough, but I found it easiest to accomplish by dragging the device outside. And yes, it also means you'll need to get your hands dirty a bit. There's just no escaping the poop.

Whisker's mobile app does a great job of alerting me when the waste bin is full, or when litter is running low. And it may sound strange, but I genuinely appreciate seeing how often my cats use the box. It's particularly helpful if one cat is feeling sick – going to the Robot frequently could be a sign of illness. The app also keeps track of your cat's weight, which could help you avoid over or under-feeding. (And of course, a big weight drop could be another health concern.)

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

After a few months of testing, only two of my cats continue to use the Litter Robot 4. Still, they use it frequently enough to fill up its waste bin every week. (We also have two normal litter boxes around the house for the lone renegade.) My one major annoyance, aside from all of those random errors, is the Litter Robot's open design. I'm aware it's something cats prefer, but it also leads to litter being strewn around the floor. Unfortunately, Whisker's bundled gate and front step for the Litter Robot don't really help much. If you do end up getting this thing, I'd suggest adding a litter mat up front, and be prepared to vacuum or sweep every few days.

The Litter Robot 4 is an extravagance, but it's one that tired cat owners may find useful. Just don't expect any miracles. You'll still need to watch out for errors, do some manual scrubbing and sweep up stray litter. The perfect self-cleaning litter box isn't here yet, but the Litter Robot 4 is as close as you'll get.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Amazon is expanding the Astro's abilities for both home and business

While Amazon is widely known for its Ring brand of doorbell camera home security systems, the company last year introduced a more mobile, and way more adorable, monitoring platform: Astro. The $1,500 automaton essentially serves as an Alexa on wheels, trundling about your home like an AIBO that also manages your calendar and doubles as a guard dog. On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled a new iteration of Astro, one that can now detect the presence of your real cat or dog. 

The new feature will trigger while the Astro is "on patrol" around your home. When it encounters your pet, Astro will capture a short video clip of them and share it with you via Live View (part of the Alexa Together system). 

"You can use Live View to tell your dog to get off the couch, or you can take a picture of what they’re doing to add to your pet scrapbook," Ken Washington, vice president of Consumer Robotics, said during the event. "We think this feature will be especially useful by providing a live connection to your pets so that you have peace of mind about them, no matter where you are."

Astro is also gaining some added situational awareness. The robot can already map out its patrol routes through your home but, with a new multimodal AI capability, Astro will actively pay attention to "things in your home that you want it to learn about—and better notify you if something isn’t right," Washington said.  


Feline adventure game 'Stray' is getting a limited-edition cat backpack

The history of video games is littered with odd tie-in merchandise, from Resident Evil perfume and Xbox body wash to a Call of Duty-themed Jeep and the Xbox Mini Fridge. Annapurna Interactive is adding to that storied legacy with a branded cat carrier for new adventure game Stray.

The publisher teamed up with pet accessories brand Travel Cat for the limited-edition carrier, which it announced just a few days before the game hits PlayStation and PC on Tuesday. "We've hinted at it. It's true. We're happy to share that limited-edition Stray x Travel Cat merch for your feline companions is up for pre-order!" Annapurna wrote in a tweet spotted by Eurogamer.

we've hinted at it. it's true. we're happy to share that limited edition Stray x Travel Cat merch for your feline companions is up for pre-order!

— Annapurna Interactive (@A_i) July 14, 2022

It's a version of a Travel Cat backpack called The Fat Cat with neon and charcoal colors inspired by the cyberpunk setting of Stray. The pet accessory company says the $185 carrier is sturdy and breathable, while there's space for more than one cat. There's a bubble attachment so your curious furry friends can look at the outside world, as well as a leash clip (a Stray leash and harness are also available)

You don't have to limit the contents to cats either. "You could also use the harness and backpack for small/mediumish dogs if you really wanted to," Annapurna said. "And you can use the backpack for carrying stuff in general too." Travel Cat will ship the carrier in two batches, one on August 31st and another on September 21st.

There's been a sizable buzz around puzzle platformer Stray since it first emerged a couple of years ago. You'll play as a stray cat that has been separated from its family. You'll make your way home through a dystopian cybercity with the help of a companion drone, all the while knocking over as many things as you can. PlayStation Plus subscribers on the Extra and Premium tiers can play the game at no extra cost.

The best gadgets for your pets

Whether they be cat or dog lovers, Engadget’s editors have our fair share of fur babies. With all the comfort and joy our pets have given us, especially over the past year, we think they deserve gifts just as much as any other member of the family this holiday season. Here’s a list of things we’ve given our own little furry friends that we think your pet will enjoy too.

BarkBox monthly subscription


You can buy your pet the cutest, squeakiest toys but you know they won't last forever: your dog will tear even the sturdiest plush to shreds eventually. You can at least stay ahead of them with a Barkbox subscription, which will deliver a themed box full of funny toys and delicious treats once a month. The themes will make you laugh, while your dog will love having a package that's all for them. — Kris Naudus, Buyer’s Guide Editor

Shop BarkBox

Cat Person cat food subscription

Cat Person

Prior to last year, my husband and I usually bought cat food at the grocery during our weekly shop. Then, sometime during lockdown, all of the cat food was suddenly sold out. As I was browsing online to see if we could get some delivered, I came across CatPerson, a subscription service for cat food. On top of that, the food looked high-quality, with natural ingredients and 50 percent more protein than the industry standard. I decided to try it out, and my household hasn't looked back. The cat absolutely loves it and we like that there are 16 different flavors so she’ll never get bored. Bonus: the delivery box easily converts into either a toy or a kitty chalet for the cat to play around in. — Nicole Lee, Senior Editor

Shop CatPerson subscriptions

Catastrophic Creations "The Lift" Cat Hammock

Catastrophic Creations

When I first saw this, $80 felt like a big splurge for a piece of cat furniture I wasn’t even sure if my kitty would like. But after more than a year with Catastrophic Creations’ “The Lift,'' I'm so glad I took the chance. The wall-mounted hammock is exceptionally well made, and comes in a variety of colors and finishes so you can match your existing decor. Most importantly: my cat absolutely loves having her own space, a few feet above the couch, where she can nap in the sun and silently judge us from above. The company makes a range of other wall-mounted cat furniture as well, so you can set up an entire elevated playground, complete with mini Indiana Jones-style rope bridges, scratching posts and feeding stations. But even if you’re not ready for all that (or just lack the wall space), the cat hammock is the best of both: a comfy nap spot and a new place to run to when the zoomies hit. — Karissa Bell, Senior Editor

Buy The Lift at Amazon - $58

Catit Senses 2.0 Flower Fountain

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Catit

Cats generally prefer drinking moving water; if you ever see your kitty splashing her water around in the bowl, that’s why. It’s also one of the reasons many people suggest getting a water fountain for your cat. We ended up getting the Catit Senses 2.0 Flower Fountain for our little one. It has three different water flow settings and a triple-action filter that helps ensure the water is as fresh as possible. On top of that, we love that it looks like a little plastic flower pot. — N.L.

Buy flower fountain at Amazon - $30

K&H heated cat bed

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / K&H

In my house, we’ve nicknamed this bed “the hottub,” because our resident cat loves to sit in here for hours, especially in the winter months. The K&H bed is simple, yet effective. There’s a built-in heating pad stashed in the base of the bed that keeps it at a consistently cozy (and safe) temperature. The cover is also removable, so it’s easy to wash up, which is a good thing when your cat spends hours a day in there. — K.B.

Buy heated cat bed at Amazon - $45

Pet Cube Bites 2 Lite treat slinger

Pet Cube

From the affordable Cam to the more luxurious Bites 2, PetCube offers several different pet camera models, but we like the Bites 2 Lite for its balance of price and features. You get a treat dispenser with a 1080p camera that features automatic night vision and 8x digital zoom. It also comes with support for two-way audio. The Bites 2 Lite doesn’t come with Alexa built-in, but there’s a good chance you don’t need Amazon’s voice assistant on a device you use to check on your pet and toss them treats when they’ve been a good boy or girl. — Igor Bonafacic, Associate Editor

Buy Bites 2 Lite treat dispenser at Amazon - $149

PetKit Dog Water Bottle


If your doge is anything like mine, they’re mostly floof and easily get thirsty on warm, sunny days. After trying several different dog-specific water bottles, I found the travel bottle from PetKit ideal for helping my canine companion stay hydrated. It’s only $13 but can hold up to 14 ounces of liquid and features a clever design that limits spillage. A silica gel gasket and lock ring also help ensure that the bottle won’t leak in your backpack. I take it on almost every walk with my dog and he always seems thankful when he can drink from it. — I.B.

Buy travel bottle at Amazon - $20

PrettyLitter subscription service


My husband and I love our cat very much, but boy, does her poop stink up the joint. After seeing an ad for PrettyLitter online, we decided to try it out to see if it would help us. Fortunately, it does, and more. Not only does it have super absorbent silicon crystals that trap odor, but it actually changes color to tell you if your cat has any urinary tract issues. Of course, this doesn’t replace going to the vet, but it’s nice to know what’s going on with your cat’s health. Since the litter is so efficient at keeping odor away, we’ve found that we actually use less litter than before, which helps reduce waste. Plus, our cat seems to like it too. On top of that, the company offers a subscription service, delivering a new bag to your door every month. — N.L.

Shop PrettyLitter

Ruffwear Dog Cooling Vest


The Ruffwear Dog Cooling Vest is ideal for hiking and camping fans in warm climates, and it’s incredibly simple to use. Dunk the vest in water, wring it out and buckle it onto your dog — that’s it, and your buddy is ready to run around in the sun. The Ruffwear vest has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating of 50+, a built-in leash slot and a three-layer design that encourages evaporative cooling. It comes in sizes from x-x-small to x-large, and it costs around $60, or about as much as a Patagonia workout shirt (for humans, that is). — Jessica Conditt, Senior Editor

Buy cooling vest at Amazon - $60

Timbuk2 Muttmover luxe dog backpack


Hopefully, your pet will be too comfortable in this bag to care that it’s called a “Muttmover.” This backpack from Timbuk2 is designed to carry your dog (or cat, we guess), their water bowl, and even your own gadgets, with padded shoulder straps and plenty of external pockets. The main bag has a zippered hole big enough for your pet’s head to poke through while you walk, while the entire front panel unzips for easy extraction. The interior is easy to wipe down and made of durable ripstop nylon fabric, and it even comes with a collapsible dog bowl. — J.C.

Buy Muttmover bag at Amazon - $139

Google can now find your pet's doppelgänger in works of art

Back in 2018, the Google Arts & Culture app introduced a feature that looks your doppelgänger in works of art. It's searched for matches for more than 120 million selfies so far. Now, the app can look for animals in art that resemble your pets too.

Using a machine learning algorithm, Pet Portraits matches a snap of your furry, finned or feathered friend against tens of thousands of works from Google's partner institutions. The app might determine that the best match for your pet is in a piece of street art from Mexico or a cat figurine from ancient Egypt.

You can share your Pet Portraits as still images or choose a few of them to turn into a GIF slideshow. To get started, tap the rainbow camera button at the bottom of the screen on the Google Arts & Culture app, which you can download on iOS or Android.

The Pet Portraits feature wasn't available at the time of writing, so unfortunately I wasn't able to test it out with snaps of the Engadget team's pets. However, Google has shared a few examples of the tool in action, including one or two that maybe aren't super close to being a perfect match.



Feeding Chickens, With Style

Ah, the joys of domestic animals. Often adorable, occasionally useful, they’re universally unable to care for themselves in the slightest. That’s part of the bargain though; we take over responsibility for their upkeep and they repay us with whatever it is they do best. Unless the animal in question is a cat, of course – they have their own terms and conditions.

Chickens, though, are very useful indeed. Give them food and water and they give you delicious, nutritious, high-quality protein. Feeding them every day can be a chore, though, unless you automate the task. This Twitch-enabled robotic chicken feeder may be overkill for that simple use case, but as [Sean Hodgins] tell it, there’s a method to all the hardware he threw at this build. That would include a custom-welded steel frame holding a solar panel and batteries, a huge LED matrix display, a Raspberry Pi and camera, and of course, food dispensers. Those are of the kind once used to dispense candy or gum for a coin or two in the grocery; retooled with 3D-printed parts, the dispensers now eject a small scoop of feed whenever someone watching a Twitch stream decides to donate to the farm that’s hosting the system. You can see the build below in detail, or just pop over to Sweet Farm to check out the live feed and gawk at some chickens.

It’s an impressive bit of work on [Sean]’s part for sure, and we did notice how he used his HCC rapid prototyping module to speed up development. Still, we’re not convinced there will be many donations at $10 a pop. Then again, dropping donations to the micropayment level may lead to overfed chickens, and that’s not a good thing.

Hack a Day 23 Aug 21:00