The PupPod Vision
When we started inventing PupPod, we saw an opportunity to make better products for animals and leverage technology to disrupt the pet industry. As we've made progress building PupPod, we've realized that we're inventing a new product category that's much bigger than a techie dog toy.
Data is the Common Denominator
Dogs have an amazing capacity to learn and interact with humans, but they don't speak English or French or Chinese. They communicate their intentions through actions. By analyzing the data from their actions, we are applying new techniques to better understand what animals are telling us.
A border collie named Chaser has a vocabulary of over 1000 words, which shows how capable dogs are, but Chaser was showered with thousands of hours of human training to learn those words. Beyond learning words, dogs can learn amazing skills such as assisting the elderly, guiding the blind, helping with search & rescue, and detecting human conditions such as low blood sugar, seizures, or cancer.
The only thing stopping more dogs from learning more skills is human training time. Every dog may not be a service dog, but every dog has the ability to learn and problem solve, which they find rewarding. And that's where technology comes in.
Operant conditioning is a well-known framework for training animals. Clicker training is based on operant conditioning, but it requires the full-time attention of a well-trained human who has practiced the technique. While PupPod is also based on operant conditioning, we've automated the learning process so dogs can play and learn on their own.
When book making was a manual process, reading was limited to the elite. The printing press automated book making and reading grew exponentially. We are at a similar point with dogs where only a small number of dogs (e.g. service dogs) receive significant education. PupPod brings self-learning to a much larger audience of dogs.
A Computer Designed for Dogs
All the physical items of a computer are all there; a microprocessor, memory, software, input devices and output devices. It connects to the cloud and can be updated with new software in the field. While the impact of providing a computer for dogs is nascent, a new field of Animal-Computer Interaction is gaining steam in universities and there's even a yearly conference. Software user experience and usability are critical for human computers and the same is true for animal computers.
Why Does a Dog Need a computer?
It's the same reason humans give an iPad to a 3-year old. Humans leverage technology to solve problems and promote opportunity. In the near-term, canine computers can help address behavior issues, promote slower eating, increase exercise, enable remote play, and provide entertainment.
Longer-term, canine computers allow humans to better understand the animals we share our lives with. Pets are family members. Similar to the way computers have changed the way humans interact with each other, the PupPod platform will change the way humans interact our animal family members.