icpoochIf you’re a dog owner and have ever felt bad about leaving Fido, Otis or Buster at home alone, here’s a new technology just for you.

Meet the iCPooch, an Internet-enabled device powered by a Raspberry Pi computer that allows dog owners to video chat with their pups and automatically deliver a dog treat from afar.

Spokane venture capitalist Tom Simpson pointed out this amazing contraption and the inspiring Spokane 9th grader, Brooke Martin, who invented it. Martin actually pitched the concept at a Startup Weekend event in Spokane last year, getting a standing ovation. The newly-formed company has already added a full-time CEO, tech industry vet James Pelland, filed for patents and raised a bit of cash from Simpson and others. It also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, looking to raise $75,000. (The campaign, which started last month, has topped $6,000).

Of course, with an invention like this, there has to be a back story, and there is.

Brooke Martin with Kayla
Brooke Martin with Kayla

“My dog Kayla suffered from separation anxiety, so I thought it would be really cool to be able to video chat with her while I was away from home to make sure she was OK,” Martin explains in an email to GeekWire. “The idea of delivering her a treat seemed liked it would really make her happy if I could figure out how to do it.”

Martin, a 9th grader at North Central High School in Spokane and a finalist for the 3M Young Scientist Award, is still tinkering with the technology behind iCPooch. She’s hoping to get the devices into stores soon. Right now, the company is in prototype phase.

Here’s more on how the thing works from the Kickstarter.

With the iCPooch device connected to a home wireless internet router, you can deliver a treat from a smartphone, tablet, or computer no matter where you are. The device also has an adjustable mounting bracket so that you can attach a tablet or smartphone (not included) and video chat with your pet! The tablet/smartphone operates independently of the iCPooch device, allowing you to use Skype video chat software to auto-answer your calls (we are also working on our own video chat solution). As long as your smartphone/tablet has a microphone and a camera (most all do) and is connected to the internet, you can video chat with Fido at eye level, and in the separate iCPooch app deliver a treat. An estimated 13+ million dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and we know that pet owners do too!

The iCPooch device is a combination of a miniature vending machine and a computer. The device acts like a computer, using a motherboard (Raspberry Pi) and wifi module to connect to the internet. The computer is attached to a motor which is activated when the owner of the device gives it the “drop treat” command from their remote computing device (smartphone, tablet, pc, etc). A removable/re-loadable sleeve inside the device houses the treats, and one treat is pushed out by the motor arm each time the motor is activated.

Now, one of the things that I keep thinking about with this device is that photo above of the dog just staring at the screen. I can imagine a dog, especially a food-oriented beast like my 80-pound mutt Henry, getting a bit obsessed with this contraption. (I also can imagine Henry cracking the code on the dispenser, gobbling up all of the treats. Remind me to tell you the story of how he figured out how to get into a chicken coop one time while on a house stay through Rover.com).

In addition to selling the device, iCPooch also plans to sell its very own dog treats. (A smart business tactic that creates a nice ongoing revenue stream).

Here’s the impressive Kickstarter pitch from Brooke.

Comments

  • NotImpressed

    I don’t get at all why this is impressive, a team of 50 engineers at Microsoft could easily have accomplished this in a month or two.

    • Guest

      Heh, but this one works. ;)

    • chachoo

      She is 13. Dont be a jerk.

      • Agent Gary 7

        Easy there chachoo. I believe Notimpressed was simply being “facetious.” Despite his/her moniker, I bet they ARE impressed…

    • http://www.dangayle.com/ Dan Gayle

      I was at that Startup Weekend (won it actually), and I loved her pitch
      from the beginning. Want to know why
      it was impressive? Because the kid wooed the crowd. She had us all in
      stitches, and it was incredible to hear such a good presentation from
      the youngest, least experienced speaker in the room.

      • NotImpressed

        Yeah yeah, take it easy. I was just hating on MS. I’ll clarify next time.

    • Gotcha N328

      The point here is not to take someone’s idea and say how much faster you can do it. The point is to love what you do and make others love what you do. 50 engineers without passion for the same idea can produce something, but it will be something different. I think she is on the right path.

    • Dan Wallis

      i’d rather give my money to them than microsoft. they have a passion and drive for their great idea of a product. and it is a great idea

  • http://startedinseattle.com/ ChetCrunch

    This is awesome. I’m in Spokane today, and will hopefully be meeting with Tom over at the E-Tailz office. Definitely looking forward to talking more about this with him. :) GO STARTUP WEEKEND!

  • Guest

    I was at that Startup Weekend (won it actually), and I loved her pitch from the beginning. @937c7bbd749d412d44ec7105f73f4c50:disqus, want to know why it was impressive? Because the kid wooed the crowd. She had us all in stitches, and it was incredible to hear such a good presentation from the youngest, least experienced speaker in the room.

  • Guest

    After first look at the picture, I actually thought there is a call button instead of a cookie :-)

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