My lovely, brilliant, and hardworking wife works to try to make the world a better place for animals. She has what I call animal radar, and she’s also kind of a hippie. Recently, she had an idea that seemed pretty out there. What if I optimized our smarthome for our pets? At first, I wrote this off as another crazy plan to teach our dog how to flush the toilet, or have the litter box clean itself. But upon further reflection, I actually found the concept to be untapped and potentially exciting.
We have a dog and two cats that sit at home most of the day. It’s probably pretty boring for them. Animals need “enrichment”, toys and treats around to keep them interested in their surroundings. If they’re entertained, they are typically better behaved, and they don’t decide to chew on my record collection (the dog), or bite through any expensive iPod cables that might be lying around (the cats).
Using Control4, which I have at home, I can create a schedule for my audio and video devices to be turned on and off, and can have remote access to programmed devices from any internet location. So, for example, I could play the sounds of birds chirping over my living room speakers, causing my cats to completely freak out trying to find a Robin in our Brooklyn apartment. Or I could find some good footage of dogs playing outside, load it unto a media player, and at a certain time of the week have it automatically play so Lady, the dog, doesn’t get lonely.
Having remote access, I could set up an IP camera that would allow me to see what my pets were doing and interact accordingly. I could record my own voice to be played over my sound system, and give play commands to my dog over the internet. I’m not sure how to give her a treat when she gets one right, but maybe I could build some type of relay controlled trap door that drops treats on her.
I could also use it for behavior modification. My cats think its great fun trying to open the door to the big cat food container. If we forget to latch it, they climb on top of each other and use their noses to open the door. But if I put a wireless door contact on the door, every time they open it I could trigger all the lights on and the sound of angry pure breed barking. Slightly cruel, but they’d be so scared they probably would never try again.
The possibilities just keep coming to me. I’ll give some of my ideas a test run, and report back with the results. Got any good Smarthome ideas for pets? Let us know!