This plastic column reminded us of home-security monitors like the Canary, but it comes with a twist. The section at the top accommodates an internet-connected 720p HD camera, while the hole half-way down ejects pet treats on command!
The commands come from the accompanying app, which runs on your Apple or Android phone or tablet. The Furbo connects to your broadband router, letting you control it from anywhere in the world when you’re connected to the internet. On-screen icons let you watch live through the camera’s lens, talk to your dog over the Furbo’s built-in speaker, or flick a treat in the hound’s general direction. There’s no obvious reason why this wouldn’t all work equally for cats, except that any self-respecting cat would just stare at the unit balefully for a couple of hours before swatting it on to the floor. Some dogs might adopt the same attitude, but fortunately it’s not as easy to knock over as it looks.
There’s a genuine purpose to this gadget, but it’s too expensive for most pet owners.
You’ll need to place the Furbo fairly high up, because the camera points slightly downwards. It gives a wide-angle view, and provides night vision, so when your dog (or cat) is in the same room you should be able to see what it’s up to. The speaker and mic (yes, your pup can talk back to you) don’t give particularly brilliant sound quality, but the app will alert you when it hears barking. The idea is that you can then soothe the mutt with some kind words and a snack, of which up to 30 can be stored (their diameter can be no larger than 1cm), although for health reasons you shouldn’t dish out more than 10 a day. Dispensing too many treats (as we discovered during testing) can result in your faithful friend, well, returning the favor, so to speak.
If you regularly have to leave your dog on its own, there’s a genuine purpose to this gadget, and the treat-giving aspect should ensure it hangs around at least some of the time in the camera’s vicinity, even if it’s not confined to the room. But at £249 (up from the original £199 due to the exchange rate), it’s far too expensive for most pet owners.
120-degree wide-angle camera with 4x digital zoom • 720p HD • Speaker and microphone • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Ethernet • Requires iOS or Android device • 225x150x120mm (HxWxD) • 0.8kg • One-year warranty
What sounds at first like one of those ‘internet of things’ joke items is actually quite a good idea – but not at this price