Nov. 19, 2012 at 8:10 PM ET
A new automated feeder leapfrogs the competition with a slick design and an easy-to-use smartphone app. It won't pet your cat for you, but it might just help it stay healthy — as well as taking a load off your mind.
Anyone with a pet knows that the human's schedule doesn't always coincide with the animal's. And while this usually just means a bit of anxiety for Fifi and master, it can also adversely affect the pet's health. Many pets are overweight because their humans don't adequately monitor their feeding habits.
The Pintofeed aims to solve a few problems at once. It's a new automated feeder that its creators claim will lead to both healthier pets and a more well-informed owner.
Like existing automated feeders, it can be set to dispense food at set times and intervals: Half a cup every two hours, or a cup and a half at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. — that sort of thing. But it also connects with a smartphone app, so you can hit the feed button if you're running late, and the feeder monitors the pet's activity and relays that as well.
So not only will you know that food has been put out, but you know that the cat or dog dug in, how much it ate, and when.
It's curious, though, that while it sends so much info to you, it doesn't include something like a camera that snaps a picture whenever the cat goes by or eats, or when the dog barks. It sounds minor, but many pet owners would go gaga over such a feature, and even skeptical ones would at the very least find it reassuring.
But will we see an arms race in pet-telepresence devices like this? It sounds ridiculous, but it's not such a far-off idea. Home appliances are becoming very sophisticated and connected, and adding the functionality wouldn't be expensive. Maybe in the Pintofeed 2.
Pintofeed is currently at Indiegogo trying to raise $50,000 for its initial manufacturing run — the company has raised nearly $18,000 so far. It'll sell for $149 at retail, though you can pre-order one for $99.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.