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CleverPet is a connected platform that lets you provide the mental stimulation your dog craves, even when you can't be there.
CleverPet is a connected platform that lets you provide the mental stimulation your dog craves, even when you can't be there.
1,142 backers pledged $180,623 to help bring this project to life.


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CleverPet: A Dog Game Console for Automatic All Day Play



Our Kickstarter campaign has ended, but you can still order your CleverPet at

Thank you so much to all our backers! We are so excited about bringing CleverPet to you.

Much love,

-Team CleverPet
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  • All day interaction thanks to games that adapt
  • Arrive home to a dog that's been challenged and active
  • Join the community that's transforming pet parenting

CleverPet completely transforms your pet’s experience of being home alone. It's a device that feeds your dog while she engages with it and learns. And we even make it easy for you keep track of when your pet plays and eats.

CleverPet is a learning console that engages and teaches your dog. It uses scientifically proven techniques to offer interactions that adapt to individual dogs’ needs. These interactions grow more challenging as your dog learns, and can take place even when you can’t be home. Many dogs left alone at home are bored and unengaged, which can lead to separation anxiety and costly destructive behavior. With CleverPet, your dog is busy, engaged, and challenged at her learning level—automatically. A busy dog is a happy dog, and a busy, happy dog has no time for negative behavior.

The CleverPet uses cutting-edge algorithms based on behavioral science to reward your dog when she learns something new. The device has three sensitive touch pads, which light up interactively and are designed for your dog’s nose or paw. Your pet will win food for touching the pads on the device. CleverPet's software is constantly adapting to your pet, and you can always see how she is doing in real time.

Once your dog masters the third level, she is ready for the bigger challenges that CleverPet can provide. Your dog will have a huge variety of interactive games to try out. Imagine "Lumosity for dogs." And because the CleverPet adjusts levels in real time, based on your pet's performance, it's never too easy or too hard.

These are just a few of the level 4+ games you could teach your dog ... what other games could you teach your pet?

The best part is that all of this happens while you're out of the house. Instead of anxiously waiting for family members to come back, your dog is busy playing, learning, and eating gradually over the course of the day.

Yes. With CleverPet, you can give your dog a better day at home. When you’re not there, your dog can still be engaged, entertained, and challenged. The scientific principles behind CleverPet have been around for over a century. CleverPet could never replace you, but it picks up where you leave off. CleverPet can go all day, seven days a week. It doesn’t leave for work, it’s never too tired to play, and it won’t let insanely adorable cuteness interfere with the consistency of its rewards. When your pet wants to engage, the CleverPet is there.

Great PI/PX (pet interface/pet experience) is at the core of CleverPet's design.

Designed for dogs. Durable rubber touch pads; low center of gravity to prevent tipping; no “bitable” parts; a microphone for sensing dog barks. 

Tuned to dogs’ senses. CleverPet is built to suit natural behaviors (for example pawing, nosing, and digging), and includes lights and sounds designed for your pet’s different abilities to see and hear. 

Smart dog bowl. CleverPet can replace your dog’s food bowl. It holds enough food to feed most dogs until you get home. It’s compatible with a wide range of dry food sizes.

Completely autonomous. Sit back and let the algorithms do their thing. Fill the CleverPet with food, turn it on, and leave, knowing your dog is having fun and learning while you’re away. 

Always ready. Pet interactions can happen all day, whether or not you’re home. 

Remote monitoring. See your pet’s progress in real time through our website and app, and view summaries of your dog’s learning over time.

Take it slow. Feeds your dog slowly, a few pieces of food at a time. 

Never boring. Adapts to your dog’s responses continuously to keep your pet challenged.

WiFi-connected. It can connect to other smart devices. Just imagine the possibilities! 

Spark-powered. Hack much? It's Arduino-compatible. Write your own custom code. We provide a RESTful API.

A note from CleverPet Chief Dog Trainer Graham Bloem

As a professional dog trainer, I see every day what can happen when energetic, high-drive dogs are left alone at home. Dogs are a working species, and many breeds have evolved to run for more than six hours a day. When I think about the potential of CleverPet, my mind immediately goes to the 3-5 million dogs that are euthanized every year. Many of these dogs have bad behavior that’s a direct result of the drive that builds up in them over the course of the day. It leads to a cycle: dog is frustrated, dog damages the furniture, dog gets punished, dog gets more frustrated. 

With CleverPet, we can be proactive about addressing dogs’ needs to be engaged throughout the day. With stimulating games we’re directing their energy in appropriate directions, and even teaching them new things. 

Leo Trottier, PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science (UC San Diego). Inventor and CEO of CleverPet. Ran, and has paused his PhD in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego to indulge his love of animals and focus on growing CleverPet. 

Dan Knudsen, PhD, Neurosciences (UC San Diego). Automated animal interaction specialist and Chief Science Officer of CleverPet. Dan has been designing hardware and software that interacts with animals for more than 11 years.

Graham Bloem. CleverPet’s Chief Dog Trainer (CDT). Nationally recognized dog trainer with more than a decade of experience. 

James Kwon. Designer, and CMO of CleverPet. 

Emily Bluvas, PhD, Neurosciences (UC San Diego). Automated animal interaction specialist. Emily has been creating engaging automated animal interactions for more than seven years.

Justin Kiggins. PhD Candidate (UC San Diego). Twitter and social media strategy specialist.

Caner Cooperrider. Mechanical engineer. (NASA, Lockheed Martin).

Phil Baker. Product Development Advisor. Product development expert and author of "From Concept to Consumer."

Mike Nuttall. Industrial Design Advisor. Co-founder of IDEO. 

Patrick McVeigh. Hardware Sales Advisor. Serial entrepreneur with over thirty years experience in hi-tech. Former CEO of Palmsource and Aliph (maker of Jawbone). 

Zeyad MoussaStrategy Advisor. (Illumina)

Sam Leinhardt, PhD. Strategy Advisor. Serial entrepreneur. Founder and CEO of Penthera Partners, Inc.

Ted Rheingold. Advisor: community & customers. Founder of

Outerspace Design Group. Engineering and tool design, design-for-manufacture,  tooling validation, QC assessment, testing.

Figmints Delicious Design. An incredibly talented and dedicated group of designers. 

PCD Productions. Paul Detjen made our video. He's the best!

In the morning, instead of putting your dog’s morning meal in her usual dish, put it in the CleverPet! Over the course of the day, your dog receives her food in return for solving simple puzzles designed especially for pets. At the end of the day, give your dog her normal evening meal, as well as whatever is left in the CleverPet. This way, your dog is fed the same amount of food each day.

The easiest way to control CleverPet is with the beautiful and easy-to-use CleverPet app for iOS and Android. The CleverPet app is designed to give you complete control over your CleverPet. You will be able to control CleverPet in real time, set its schedule, and see your dog’s interactions.

The app is still in development, which means you can tell us what else you'd like the app to do! 

CleverPet is built on the Arduino-compatible Spark Core (a Kickstarter success story)

  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • Easy setup
  • Wi-Fi range of 100 to 300 feet
  • Full device control via our REST API, built on the Spark Cloud
  • Develop your own pet games online

To expand our development of pet behavior algorithms, and to get CleverPet devices into users' hands quickly, we have created a limited number of field evaluation units (FEUs). These devices are hand assembled, built from high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), and will be shipped to backers no later than November, 2014. Our FEUs are Spark-powered, just like our production devices, and from your dog’s perspective, experiences with an FEU will be basically the same as with a production unit. From your perspective, the two major differences between an FEU and a production unit are:

  • the FEUs are not nearly as beautiful as the production unit
  • the FEUs require you to individually separate pieces of kibble and place them into a kibble carousel 

It started in the summer of 2011, when Leo began hacking together different electronic components to see whether he could teach his two cats automatically. Though he proved to himself that it was feasible, he resumed work on his PhD and paused work on the invention. In April 2013, Leo ran in to Emily and Dan on UC San Diego campus, one thing led to another, and soon the system was teaching Leo’s cat, Salk, automatically over hundreds of interactions each week. 

The team soon realized that the system was missing a key component to make it work in a home: a way to precisely deliver rewards to dogs and cats. The device would need to be programmable, and would need a connection to the internet so it could adapt in real time to each pet’s needs. No device on the market could do these things—so we built a device that could.

CleverPet’s development

CleverPet is the result of more than a year of work, and of decades of combined experience developing proofs-of-concept, working prototypes, and strong relationships with product manufacturing expertise. We built out a data collection and extensible "Pet Interaction Program" (PIP) framework that has repeatedly and consistently demonstrated success with both cats and dogs. We wrote and deployed firmware that has been engaging idle paws and rewarding desired behaviors since June 2013. In the fall of 2013 we designed, fabricated, tested, and proved our integrated mechanisms for delivering a wide range of dry pet foods with exceptional precision and safety through a Wi-Fi-connected platform. We have been testing our early stage prototypes since then, focusing on industrial design and developing the resources to move to the next step. 

We are excited to bring CleverPet to you through Kickstarter, in partnership with Outerspace Design, an exceptional firm of engineers and designers with more than 20 years of experience creating hardware products. Through this partnership, we can immediately take CleverPet through to tooling and manufacture using a full engineering team. Your support through a Kickstarter donation is crucial to managing the costs of tooling. Immediately post-Kickstarter, we will complete design-for-manufacture of the feeder mechanism, internal chassis, and exterior housing. 

Mechanical engineering

We faced a couple of challenges while designing the CleverPet. One challenge was to design a device that could hold a large quantity of pet food (a full meal for a range of pets) in a wide range of sizes and shapes. We tried a lot of different ideas, and soon realized that conventional design approaches were inadequate because typical feeder shapes and high centers of gravity made them easy to knock over and often included "bitable" surfaces.

CAD of our delivery mechanism
CAD of our delivery mechanism

Another challenge was to design a device that is guaranteed to be pet safe. After considering numerous approaches, we designed a low-friction disc that spun easily in either direction. We could drive the rotation of this disc using very little force, which meant that any interference with the disc's movement would cause it to stop moving.

Our design also minimizes issues related to having too much food that can clog the mechanism because the CleverPet only dispenses a small amount of food at a time.

Industrial design

Designing for non-humans meant that we had to drop a lot of assumptions about how "users" would interact with the device. We wanted to design a device that was: 

  • low to the ground 
  • not bitable
  • difficult for a pet to push around or tip over
  • reflective of the fact that most pets have been taught to avoid touching hard pieces of plastic that light up (e.g., cell phones)
We went through a few approaches, based on these goals:

It turns out that most dogs and cats don't like to touch hard plastic, perhaps because their claws hit the plastic uncomfortably. Also, for most of a pet's life she's told to not touch the "human" things. Silicone, however, is pet-safe, extremely durable, and if you do things properly, can be made nicely translucent.

When we started development of CleverPet, we purchased a half dozen $120 computers to deploy in the field. These computers provided the cheapest and fastest way to get started. We collected data from thousands and thousands of interaction events, and elicited, with consistency, some great pet behaviors. The software we designed made it easy to try out and analyze new Pet Interaction Programs (PIPs). 

Then we discovered the Spark Core. Because it is both Arduino-compatible and easy to connect to over WiFi, it offered up a simple architecture: the Spark Core would be responsible for the local pet interaction, a mobile app would control the device, and servers would act as the go-between! 

Animal interaction
The design which met our goals and solved our challenges used silicone pads to interact with pets, as we described above. Touch pads are among the most simple interfaces, both to use and to interpret. Now, we had two questions: could we teach pets, in many different homes and eating many different foods, to use a set of touch pads? Could we teach them to pay attention to a single illuminated touch pad? This is where Dan and Emily could apply their expertise, developed over years of hands-on work teaching animals, to show that the answer to both questions was likely yes, and to make certain that these answers were correct.

We began with buttons scavenged from a Guitar Hero handle. We knew they could stand up to lots of abuse and were easy to come by.

This is how we found out just how much some dogs don't like pressing hard plastic ...

... and so Dan decided to try switching to a softer approach: stuffed animals with a DDR pad sensor inside.
And it turns out, it worked! Check out Artie winning his food from one of our early prototypes. He's been feeding himself this way since December!

Nationally recognized dog behavior expert and CleverPet Chief Dog Trainer Graham Bloem, with support from his team, specializes in creating an unbeatable learning environment in a home-away-from-home setting for your pet. 

We all lead busy lives, and often, we simply don’t have the time it takes to get great training results, or to help our family dog(s) avoid boredom when home alone. We want the best for our dogs, but often there is just not enough time to spend training them and making sure they’re engaged.

 At CleverCamp, we take your four-legged family member into our loving and structured environment and teach him or her new boundaries, new obedience commands, address behavioral issues, AND we give your pup a jumpstart on how to use the amazing CleverPet! 

CleverCamp isn’t magic. It is hard work, repetition, consistency, compassion, timing, and a ton of patience. However, having professionals that have been training dogs for more than 16 years spend a couple of weeks with your dog (or dogs) can change your life! We can teach your dog to listen to you and follow your instructions, so that your pet can achieve his or her fullest potential as a member of your family. Fundamental to this already discounted camp is the instruction your pup will receive on how to engage with CleverPet. So when your pup comes home, not only is he or she better behaved, but your furriest family member now has both the skills and a device that turns alone time into learning time, giving your pet something to do when you head to work, run errands, or go to dinner. Your dog will be busy learning how to "decode and master" CleverPet puzzles instead of crying at the door waiting for your return. 

  • 2 Weeks of Boarding & Training (includes boarding, elite dog training daily, 24-hour staffing, a complimentary bath prior to coming home, and playtime)
  • 2 Private Training Lessons with the owner(s)
  • Production CleverPet Device (training with this device is included in this camp)
Camps like this one normally cost between $2200 and $2600 without CleverPet.

The training your dog receives will last a lifetime, something we ensure with the included private lessons. When you choose the CleverCamp Package, you can look forward to: 

  • Gaining control over your pup
  • Enjoying fun outings with your well-trained pup that you couldn't enjoy before
  • Removing the loneliness and boredom from your pup’s life
It’s impossible to put a value on ensuring that your dog lives a happy and well-balanced life, so the training that your dog will receive at CleverCamp is truly priceless.

We'd like to thank a large number of people for helping to get here. Most importantly, we'd like to thank our significant others for putting up with the crazy hours and interruptions. We'd also like to acknowledge Chris Borowiecki, a talented industrial designer who worked hard to help develop the paw-shaped design.
Contact us
  • Email:
  • Phone: 858 598 3536
Patents pending. International filings registered.

Risks and challenges

Bringing any hardware product to fruition is a significant undertaking. Fortunately, we are not doing this on our own: we have partnered with an experienced product engineering firm, and no Kickstarter funds are required to support their work. In addition, we have extremely deep hardware development experience on our board of advisors, ensuring that we avoid the most common pitfalls.

As we put the CleverPet in front of more dogs, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust -- we have accounted for this in our planning, and because our design is inherently animal resistant, such modifications should be easy to work around.

Older dogs and cats who already have strongly established routines may take much longer to begin using the device. Animals that are easily scared may dislike CleverPet and never approach it, however we have not encountered any dog or cat for whom this is a serious problem.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    THANKS! Immense gratitude! Stay up to date with CleverPet! You will also be mentioned on our list of visionary supporters

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    88 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 35 or more About US$ 35

    CLEVERCOMMUNITY -- Get a beautiful, high quality CleverPet t-shirt, and exclusive early access to the online CleverPet community (all higher levels get this access, too!)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    51 backers
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  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 129 or more About US$ 129

    SUPER EARLY BIRD: Get the best deal and help us kick off our launch! At this level you'll receive a CleverPet at our very limited availability lowest price -- more than half ($150!) off the $279 retail value.

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    Reward no longer available 200 backers
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    Pledge US$ 159 or more About US$ 159

    EARLY BIRD: Help us kick off our launch! At this level you'll receive a CleverPet at our limited availability early bird price -- more than $100 off the $279 retail value.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 400 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 199 or more About US$ 199

    Get a CleverPet -- you will get a CleverPet device from the very first production batch, at our special Kickstarter-only $199 price, $80 off the $279 retail value! Only a limited number of units are available for early delivery.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 358 backers
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  6. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    SUPER EARLY-ADOPTER: (1) a 3D-printed CleverPet Field Evaluation Unit with SEPTEMBER AVAILABILITY, and (2) a production CleverPet device (February delivery). ONLY the Field Evaluation Unit will be available in September, and it MUST be picked up in person from our San Diego office. When you pick up the Field Evaluation Unit, the CleverPet team will provide hands-on instruction on the use of the device in your home.

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,300 or more About US$ 2,300

    CLEVERCAMP: A production CleverPet, plus two weeks of
    CleverCamp for your dog with Chief Dog Trainer Graham Bloem. CleverCamp takes place in sunny San Diego, California and will be priority scheduled based on order of backing on Kickstarter (travel not included).

    Estimated delivery
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    Limited 2 backers
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Funding period

- (33 days)