Tech for the Pet-Friendly Home

Tech for the Pet-Friendly Home

PetSafe Passport pet access smart system.

During the homebuilding process, one demographic that almost always gets overlooked is pets. Nearly half of United States households have a dog or cat. That’s about 100,000,000 pets. Sure, pets aren’t the ones purchasing the home, but they have rights too! They could use home automation systems that feed them at regular intervals and doors that let them in while keeping other critters out. Their humans could also use technologies like air purification systems and paw wash stations to make everyone’s lives healthier.




Dander Be Gone!

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the average home is up to five times, and occasionally 100 times, more polluted than the air outside. An estimated 10 percent of the population may be allergic to animals. A higher rate of 20 to 30 percent of individuals with asthma have pet allergy symptoms. Pet dander can cause an allergic reaction to susceptible visitors. The animal hair is not considered to be a very significant allergen on its own. However, the hair or fur can collect pollen, dust, mold and other allergens. Homes with pets should consider indoor air quality systems so that allergic visitors can get reprieve.

“It not only reduces, but also destroys ozone, a known lung irritant, and is suited for any home with pets,” says Bobby DiFulgentiz, Lennox home energy efficiency expert. “PureAir is the only system to attack all three classes of indoor air contaminants such as; breathable dust, airborne mold and bacteria, and odors such as chemical vapors.”

This Lennox PureAir diagram shows how particles are captured to bring clean air into the home.

The Lennox PureAir air purification system is a good dander defense. The Lennox system uses exclusive UVA-light technology to attack all three classes of indoor air contaminants—particles, bacteria and odors including chemical vapors. The PureAir system reduces concentrations of pollutants through a combination of hospital-grade filtration and a process called photocatalytic oxidation. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 16 filter captures over 95 percent of particles ranging in size down to .3 micron, including dander, dust and pollen. It also removes over 90 percent of bio-aerosols such as viruses, dust mites, bacteria, mold spores and fungi as small as .01 micron. Approximately half of household odors and chemical vapors are destroyed within a 24-hour period of exposure. As the odor and chemical vapor-filled airstream flows over the UVA lamps, the airstream is exposed to the catalytic surface. The light energy and catalyst work together to break down odors and chemical vapors into carbon dioxide and water.

The system is rated for 120/230 volts, 50/60 hertz, 150 watts and 1.2/.65 amps.

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PetSafe magnetic cat flap.Smart Pet Doors

Built-in electronic SmartDoors by PetSafe let pets in and out as they please, but keep other critters at bay using radio frequency technology.

“The door reads the unique signal of the key on the pet's collar and triggers the flap to unlock,” says Lisa Taylor, senior marketing specialist for Doors & Training at PetSafe. “When the door no longer senses the pet's key, the flap automatically locks back into place.”

Users can program up to five pets that can use the door. The energy-efficient, insulated flap also has UV sun protection.

With the Passport Pet Door, pet owners can control when pets can access it and view when pets used the door each day. This door can be programmed for up to 20 pets using the LCD screen and five-button navigation or by connecting to a computer with the included USB cable. A wireless connection allows for future remote programming from any smart device, even when users are not at home.

Doors are powered either by batteries or a power adapter that plugs into a standard wall outlet.

SmartDoors range from $119 to $199 and Passport Pet Access Smart Systems range from $199 to $239.


Castle for Pets

The CastleOS home automation system keeps pets in mind with its HungryPet feature, which allows you to control a compatible feeder.

From the CastleOS HungryPet settings screen, users can schedule feeding times for each pet.From the HungryPet settings screen you select a feeder from the list of plug-in appliance modules from Insteon, Z-Wave, WeMo and others. Any feeder that operates via an on/off actuation is compatible. These will feed pets when on, using power cycling. Chris Cicchitelli, founder and CEO of CastleOS, recommends the Super-Feeder, which can handle just about any pet, including fish and outdoor feeding.

Once the feeder is selected, it then must be named. For example, Achilles Feeder (shameless pet plug), Koi Pond Feeder, etc. From there you schedule meals by clicking Add Meal and entering the feeding time.

The edit button allows users to change the name, and the delete button removes the feeder.

“We think it's as simple as possible, as there is no manual scheduling that is needed,” says Cicchitelli. “There are other systems that can do this with manual scheduling, but CastleOS is the only home automation system on the market with a pet feeding capability built right in.”


Petnet(io) feeders come in different colors.Food for Thought

While we weren’t able to get ahold of anyone at Super Feed, the folks at Petnet(io) told us about their system and the SmartFeeder.

The Petnet(io) System is made up of a robust sensor network. These sensors are built into the SmartFeeder and the software that runs on it, all of which talk to numerous services on the cloud. The numerous sensors let pet parents know things like the health and status of their pets and allow the feeders to deliver accurately sized portions (as small as 1/16th of a cup).

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“With SmartFeeder, pet parents will be able to track their pet’s calorie intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,” says Anu Saptharishi, director of marketing and channel partnerships at Petnet(io). “They will also be able to compare the caloric intake of their pet to that of other pets of similar breed, age, weight and level of activity. SmartFeeder will go a step further, and recommend the caloric intake and nutritional requirements that are optimal for each pet. The SmartFeeder’s intelligent sensors, software algorithms, and powerful processor calculate a pet’s portion size for each meal in real time.This allows SmartFeeder to create customized feedings for a pet according to its caloric needs.” 

Petnet(io) pet profile screen tells users how many meals were feed to their pet, how many feedings are left in the day and how healthy the pet is.

Steve Pelletier of SlimDoggy estimates that pet owners over feed their pets by .75 cans per day when they use the feeding instructions on pet food labels. When they use the SmartFeeder, they save about $350 per year. Homeowners will thank you for this if you choose to perhaps include the feeder as a housewarming gift.

SmartFeeder is compatible with 802.11 B/G/N Wi-Fi standards. However, SmartFeeder is equipped with on-board memory and processing power to continue executing its feeding software even if there is internet failure. Additionally, SmartFeeder is designed with dual power sources, so if the power goes out in the home, the rechargeable Lithium Polymer (LIPO) batteries will take over. On average, SmartFeeder will function for up to 3 months under normal operating conditions while being powered by the batteries.

Currently the SmartFeeder app is available for iOS and mobile web browsers supplied with Android devices. An Android app may be deployed in a few months.

As of right now, the feeder does not work with home automation systems, but company officials plan to integrate it into the Works with Nest platform.


Pets at Play While Owners Away

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I really miss my pets while I’m diligently plugging away for TecHome Builder. If I had a Petcube, however, I could get my fix during lunch.

Inside Petcube there's a camera, microphone, speaker and a low-intensity laser that can interact with pets. It connects to the home’s Wi-Fi network and lets users watch, talk and play with their pets from anywhere using a smartphone. The Petcube app will let users control their Petcube cameras after the release of the gadget in October.

“You can control the laser with the mobile app and watch your furry friend chasing the beam, just like a real-time video game,” says Daria Staverska, communications and partnerships manager at Petcube.

Users can share access to their pet with friends, family or anyone on Petcube network. The Petcube app also lets them share photos of pets and follow other pet lovers. On the top of that, there are some additional features like Autoplay mode and motion detection.

“We are working on the opportunity to integrate Petcube with other smart gadgets in the future,” Staverska says. “It would be a perfect match for people who embrace new technology and want to stay closer to their beloved pets.”

The pre-order price is $179. Sounds like the perfect housewarming gift for pet-loving buyers!

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Paw Wash StationUtility sink that doubles as a dog bath.

Kids and dogs alike seem to know exactly when the floors have been washed. That is when they tend to track mud throughout the house. A utility sink multi-tasks as a hand-washing station, a place to soak soiled clothes and a wash station for those dirty dogs. 

Now if we could only train husbands, kids and dogs to wipe their paws on the doormat before entering … 

About The Author

Kelly Mello is a TecHome Builder Staff Writer, creating timely, investigative articles for its eMagazine and Special Reports. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in English: Communications & Rhetoric. She began her writing career in 2007 as editorial assistant for GateHouse Media. From 2010 to 2013, she was local editor for various Patch sites, including

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  1. Pingback: TED-2014-12-17 – Pet Tech | The Elder Divide

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