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CleverPet: There’s now a games console for dogs

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There are all kinds of treat dispensers, but this one will let you drive your dog or cat crazy instead of the other way around. Though it's been likened to a game console, it really has more in common with Simon than your Xbox; it flashes lights and when your pet taps the right pad, out pops a treat. I like that this is species-neutral -- it works for dogs and cats and I would imagine some other quadrupeds as well. We covered this last year while it was in its crowdfunding stage, and it's finally available for preorder. It's not cheap: $300 is a lot to spend on a cat or dog toy.

CleverPet is a games console for dogs. Because, as its creators explain, dogs need entertaining too. “Most of us would never leave a family member at home all day and ask them to sleep the whole time,” explains CleverPet co-founder Leo Trottier during a startup pitch session at CES 2016.

Of the dozen or so startups to take to the stage, CleverPet was the only one to draw whoops and cheers from an often docile crowd. And the judges seemed to agree, awarding it first place in the startup pitch battle.

But then it was the only product designed for dogs. And the internet likes dogs. “Right now, people cope by leaving the TV or radio on and crossing their fingers,” says Trottier. But, he adds, “a dog with a job is a happy dog”.

The CleverPet Hub is a plastic dome with flashing lights, speakers and a dispenser that gives out dry dog food when a task is completed successfully. Trottier describes the system as “automatic, all day interaction at scale, powered by software”.

Games available include ‘catch the squirrel’, a light chasing game that challenges a dog to put its paw on the flashing light in time and ‘pattern plan’, which challenges dogs to learn increasingly complex light patterns.

CleverPet: Engage Idle Paws