May 21, 2013 at 7:46 PM ET
If you're an anxious pet owner, you probably spend a few minutes at least every day worrying whether your cat or dog is doing all right at home while you're away. Petcube is a little device that lets you not only check in on your furry friend, but speak to and play with it as well.
The Petcube is a simple device, really: It's essentially a Wi-Fi accessible webcam that you can control through a Web browser. Tap into live video and sound, point the camera where you like, and talk back. Such things already exist — but do they have lasers?
Yes, there's a laser built right in — don't worry, it's a low-power one and the creators say they have consulted with vets to make sure it won't cause any harm even it were to shine right in a pet's eyes. Not that it would ever happen: Every pet owner knows how crazy animals go for the red dot. They'll be too busy chasing it around the floor to investigate its source.
Petcube is hoping to be more than just a webcam with a laser, though. You can share the link online and let friends say hello or play with your pet, and the app lets you communicate with other owners and earn little badges.
It certainly doesn't hurt that the device itself is cute: A minimalistic metal-and-glass cube with optional wrappers to give it a furry or zebra-esque look.
Put it together with this robotic feeding device and you'll have all your pet's needs covered even if you have to stay away for a few days.
Right now the company that makes it (only a three-person operation, according to the founder) is getting ready for production, so there's no final price or availability date yet. You can sign up to pre-order now, though, with no obligation; The Petcube should start shipping this fall.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.