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No more lonely dogs. Pet parents can watch live video and interact remotely as their dogs play and learn with PupPod.
No more lonely dogs. Pet parents can watch live video and interact remotely as their dogs play and learn with PupPod.
186 backers pledged $25,484 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

PupPod: Fun And Training Games To Keep Your Dog Engaged project video thumbnail
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$25,484

186

PupPod is a great new interactive pet toy that helps reduce boredom, anxiety and destructive behavior in your dog, helping them learn new skills when you are at work.  Pet parents can tune in to interact with their dog during the games and share and compare progress (and cuteness) via the mobile app.

Here's how it works: Your dog plays with a smart toy that is wirelessly connected to a treat dispenser. If they figure out what to do, they earn a treat. But they have to keep using their doggie brain to keep earning treats as the game evolves. Pet parents can take part in the game when they are out, or at the office, even triggering treats remotely. PupPod is a new fun use of the operant conditioning method which many pet parents are familiar with. It will keep you connected to your dog throughout the day.

You'll receive notifications via our app on your phone when your dog is playing, allowing you to watch live video and make decisions in the games. You'll also be able to watch recorded videos and keep tabs on your pup with the doggie dashboard.

 PupPod is a camera, a mobile app, a community, a leader board and a whole new way to keep your dog engaged and active when home alone. When you buy PupPod here on Kickstarter you’re investing in the ‘hardware’ and the first PupPod toy ever created. We have an exciting roadmap to bring out many more toys, some even to meet the needs of specific breeds. We'll be asking our PupPod community for lots of feedback to get these just right for your dogs so watch this space.

Here's a few reasons why you and your dog will enjoy PupPod:

  • Mental stimulation: keeping your dog active, engaged and learning when you're not there

Playing PupPod requires your dog to process information and think. This means a longer attention span for training and a more relaxed dog in the evening. It may also help to postpone senility in older dogs. 

  • Feel connected when you are not together

Receive notifications on your phone when your dog plays PupPod. You can stream live video and make decisions in the game or watch recorded videos when you have downtime. You can also review performance results that show you how your dog’s brain is developing.

  • Redirect negative and destructive behavior and reduce separation anxiety  

When dogs are lonely or bored, they find ways to relieve their anxiety like chewing your new shoes or exploring the garbage. PupPod gives your creative canine a better alternative than destructive behavior. By keeping you and your dog connected it can also help reduce separation sadness when you can't be there with them.

  • Help train (and feed!) your dog when you're not there

PupPod uses the operant conditioning method which many pet owners will be familiar with from training classes. By familiarising your dog with this method PupPod can help train your dog when you're not there. It can also feed your dog when you are out (via the treat dispenser) meaning you return to a well fed, happy, more obedient furry friend.

PupPod has been designed so games evolve through new levels (and new toys can be added further down the line) to keep your pup engaged. Watch the video below to see how the first 5 levels work.

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There are two ways you can buy PupPod. Whichever one you choose, PupPod has been developed to be super easy to plug n' play so you can get on with having fun with your dog right away.

Here are the two options:

  • PupPod with a Pet Tutor dispenser 
  • PupPod without a Pet Tutor dispenser (choose this if you already own the Pet Tutor dispenser)

PupPod analyzes thousands of data points as your dog interacts with the PupPod toy (remember: we're launching with one toy but in the future there will be lots of new toys to add to the PupPod system). You'll be able to track your dog's progress, monitor their treat/food rewards, and understand what they're learning. You can even tune in to watch videos of your dog having their "Aha! moment" or mastering a new level. 

Proud pet parents can also compare their pup to their friends' pup or other dogs of a similar breed and age.  Here's how Puccini is getting on with PupPod:

System Overview

The PupPod system includes several components. Your dog plays with the toy (remember, more are in the pipeline) and it sends messages to the PupPod Hub. When your dog takes a correct action with their toy, the Hub sends a message to a wirelessly connected treat dispenser. The Hub includes a video camera to capture cute videos of your dog playing PupPod. The videos and game data are uploaded to PupCloud. Humans use the PupPod mobile app or web dashboard to view videos, game play stats, and enjoy all the PupPod online community features. You can also share videos, pictures and stats with other PupPod owners.

How does it work?

The PupPod toy uses an motion sensor to detect when your dog comes near and plays sounds from an internal speaker to get your dog's attention. The toy communicates with the PupPod Hub over Wi-Fi and uses an accelerometer to detect motion when it is touched. The toy is powered by four-AA batteries. Final power management tests are not yet complete, but we believe it should be possible to achieve two-three months of battery life. 

Engineering stack up of custom printed circuit board mounted inside toy.
Engineering stack up of custom printed circuit board mounted inside toy.

The toy housing uses a Kong Wobbler. We selected this because the Kong Wobbler is incredibly tough and almost impossible for a dog to break. We've observed that most dogs are not motivated to chew on the Kong – they'd rather eat treats coming from the dispenser. It is highly unlikely that your dog could chew through a Kong Wobbler but if this is the case, PupPod may not be the right product for you dog.

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The PupPod Hub includes a 720p HD camera to capture video of your dog interacting with the toy. A RaspberryPi B+ sends video and data to the PupCloud and also routes messages to the Bluetooth dispenser. We've also added our own custom printed circuit board to handle communication with the toy and non-Bluetooth dispensers.  The PupPod Hub can be upgraded from PupCloud to keep your system's software up-to-date, add new levels, or add support for future games. 

PupPod Hub Assembly Drawing
PupPod Hub Assembly Drawing

What's PupCloud?

PupCloud securely connects to your PupPod Hub to store videos, data, and analytics about your dog. This is where we run the numbers to determine when your dog is ready for a new challenge and to help you understand how their doggie brain is evolving. This is also where we can push updates to your PupPod Hub to ensure your system is always up-to-date.

Many of the mobile and dashboard features use PupCloud for sharing videos, pictures, and accomplishments within the PupPod community and other social networks. 

Smartphone and Web Application

We're developing a smartphone application for iOS and Android to send you push notifications when your dog is playing PupPod so you feel connected when away from home. You can stream live video when your dog is playing and make real-time decisions in the game. You can also see real-time stats on your dog's progress and set parental limits so you are in control of how many treats your dog can earn throughout the day. There's also the doggie dashboard that you can use to follow what your pup has been up to.

That's great news. Here's a simple summary of how you can get involved:

Want to help support PupPod? Don't have a dog? Don't live in the US? Don't worry you can still help PupPod reach our goals by selecting these options:

Pledge $5 or more 

Tweet or email us a picture of you and your pup. Your contribution will be honored in our smartphone app, website, and social media so everyone knows who to thank. Alternatively, none of your details need be published. You will be a founder member of the PupPod community and helping us achieve our target of bringing PupPod to life. 

Pledge $25 or more 

You'll get a PupPod t-shirt and brighten a shelter dog's day. You're welcome to contribute as much as you like and for every $2,000 pledged at this level, we'll donate a PupPod to a doggy shelter. We’ll share our shelter dogs progress on social channels so you can watch the cuteness. You will be a founder member of the PupPod community, helping us to bring PupPod to life and giving the shelter dogs a great new experience. 

Want to be one of the first to get your hands on PupPod? Great - here are the options for you:

PupPod WITHOUT a dispenser.

Choose this option if you already have a Pet Tutor Blu® dispenser or would prefer to order a dispenser separately when your PupPod is ready to ship. This is a chance to spread the payment and still secure your PupPod at an amazingly discounted price. You will also be helping us to bring PupPod to life for dogs across the US and be a founder member of the PupPod community.

30-day Money Back Guarantee. If your dog doesn't like PupPod, no problem. Send everything back in good working order and we'll refund your pledge.

PupPod Without Dispenser
PupPod Without Dispenser

PupPod WITH a dispenser. 

Love the idea of PupPod? This is everything you need to get started with PupPod right away. You’ll be helping us to bring PupPod to life - and all for a very special early bird price. This is a vote of confidence in PupPod and you will be a founder member of the PupPod community. 

30-day Money Back Guarantee. If your dog doesn't like PupPod, no problem. Send everything back in good working order and we'll refund your pledge.

PupPod With Dispenser
PupPod With Dispenser

Purchasing raw materials

We need to purchase components in the Hub such as Raspberry Pi, WiFi, Bluetooth, video camera, housing, and a custom PCB with various components that we’ve designed. We need to purchase the toy housing and the components that go with the custom PCB we’ve designed for the toy. A treat dispenser needs to be purchased for rewards that include a dispenser.

Manufacturing and assembly costs

Both the toy and hub include a custom PCB that we’ve designed. Blank PCBs have to be manufactured and the components need to be assembled on to the PCB. There are manufacturing and assembly costs associated with modifying the hub and toy housing.

Software development  

Large portions of the backend and mobile application are being developed by the core team, but some contractors will need to be hired to help with certain portions of software development so we can move faster to deliver your PupPod.

While spending time with his rescue dog, Puccini, our founder Erick had a moment of inspiration. It struck him that he could use technology to create a new way to keep dogs active and engage their doggie brains when he was at home, or away. A former Seattle software designer, Erick started thinking about games from a dog's perspective and how pet parents could better understand their pups, check in on them, and even interact with them when away from home. 

Erick posted his idea to an Arduino meet-up group and Kandarp responded. They decided to take the idea to a Start-up Weekend event, and a small team formed and built the first prototype in 48 hours. When they started testing the prototype with dogs, they realized they were on to something interesting.

After testing PupPod with over 250 dogs across five prototype versions, the PupPod team has learned a lot, and the product has come along way. In July 2014, PupPod won the Audience Choice Award at the Seattle TechCrunch pitch-off event. The team is now ready to make PupPod available to a community of pilot users who believe in canine intelligence and want to provide feedback to influence a new product category.   

Follow us on social media to find out why PupPod is in the news! (this is our CEO Erick)

https://twitter.com/PupPod

https://www.facebook.com/PupPod

Risks and challenges

Risk Mitigation

We've taken great effort to minimize the risks and optimize for success. We are honored and humbled by the support we've received so far. We also view delivering what we are promising on Kickstarter as a very serious step. From the beginning of our company, we agreed to launch on Kickstarter only once we had passed several credibility milestones.

1. A credible plan: Before taking money from backers, we wanted to have a solid plan in place to deliver what were promising. To this end, we are on our 5th generation prototype and our last prototype is the version we'll make for Kickstarter. We've hired printed circuit board (PCB) designers to create GERBER files used for PCB manufacturing. We've interviewed 8 vendors and settled on 2 companies to manufacture and assemble sample PCBs. We've also determined a viable vendor to source every component in the current design, down to the smallest resistor and capacitor. One set of samples has already been produced and the other set is in the queue for manufacturing. We have a qualified team to troubleshoot issues that come up and produce the assembled boards for Kickstarter.

2. Off-the-shelf components: We are using many off-the-shelf components to minimize risk and increase the probability of success. This has the downside of high variable cost, but we feel this is the right trade-off to make for the pilot units. Our strategy is to build a solid pilot product and then incorporate the pilot customer feedback into a cost-reduced design for Version 1.

3. Software development. Our team has multiple decades of combined experience building high quality, scalable backend software systems and beautiful mobile apps. We have a very realistic understanding of the work involved and the architecture to support the software components of PupPod. Several of the risker elements of the architecture have been prototyped and analyzed to ensure our plan is credible. For example, we've selected a backend partner that exceeds our system requirements for video storage and streaming and we've completed end-to-end tests to validate this decision.

4. Fulfillment Cost: In order to make sure our budget for campaign rewards is realistic, we built a bottoms-up financial model that includes sourcing materials, manufacturing, packaging, taxes, and fees.

Remaining Risks

1. Sourcing parts. Even though we've mapped every part in our bill of materials to a viable vendor, there is always a chance that parts that are available today may be unavailable when we are ready to place orders. If this occurs, it could change costs and delay schedules depending on the solution.

2. We believe our battery life analysis is in the right ballpark to meet modern battery life expectations, but we won't know the real battery life numbers until we run tests on the manufactured PCBs and optimization software is complete.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    I WANT TO SUPPORT PUPPOD
    Send us a picture of you and your pup. You're contribution will be honored in our smartphone app, website, and social media so everyone knows who to thank.

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    41 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    DONATE PUPPOD TO A WORTHY SHELTER
    You'll get a PupPod t-shirt and brighten a shelter dog's day. You're welcome to contribute as much as you like and for every $2,000 pledged at this level, we'll donate a PupPod to a worthy shelter along with custom software and technical support. This is a great option for backers who don't have a dog but want to support PupPod.

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    81 backers
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  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $179 or more About $179

    PUPPOD WITHOUT A DISPENSER (Super Early Bird Price)
    Everything you need to get started with PupPod, EXCEPT a dispenser. FREE SHIPPING.

    If you already have a Pet Tutor Blu® dispenser, you are all set. If not, when your PupPod is ready to ship, we'll help you pick out the appropriate dispenser to purchase.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 10 backers
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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    PUPPOD WITHOUT A DISPENSER (Special Offer)
    Everything you need to get started with PupPod, EXCEPT a dispenser. FREE SHIPPING.

    If you already have a Pet Tutor Blu® dispenser, you are all set. If not, when your PupPod is ready to ship, we'll help you pick out the appropriate dispenser to purchase.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $249 or more About $249

    PUPPOD WITHOUT A DISPENSER
    Choose this option if you already have a Pet Tutor Blu® dispenser or would prefer to order a dispenser separately when your PupPod is ready to ship. This option offers the chance to spread the payment and still secure your PupPod at a discounted price. You will also be helping us bring PupPod to life for dogs across the US and be a founder member of the PupPod community. FREE SHIPPING. ($50 off RRP)

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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge $279 or more About $279

    PUPPOD WITH DISPENSER (Super Early Bird Price)
    Everything you need to get started with PupPod. FREE SHIPPING.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 11 backers
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  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $349 or more About $349

    PUPPOD WITH DISPENSER (Early Bird Price)
    Love the idea of PupPod? This is everything you need to get started with PupPod at a discounted price. Choose this option if you want your doggy to be one of the first to experience PupPod. You will be a founder member of the PupPod community and be helping us bring PupPod to life. You (and your pup!) can get started right away, at a great price - only for our Kickstarter backers. FREE SHIPPING

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $399 or more About $399

    PUPPOD WITH DISPENSER (Special Offer)
    Love the idea of PupPod? This is everything you need to get started with PupPod at a discounted price. Choose this option if you want your doggy to be one of the first to experience PupPod. You will be a founder member of the PupPod community and be helping us bring PupPod to life. You (and your pup!) can get started right away, at a great price - only for our Kickstarter backers. FREE SHIPPING

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $449 or more About $449

    PUPPOD WITH DISPENSER
    Love the idea of PupPod? This is everything you need to get started with PupPod at a discounted price. Choose this option if you want your doggy to be one of the first to experience PupPod. You will be a founder member of the PupPod community and be helping us bring PupPod to life. You (and your pup!) can get started right away, at a great price - only for our Kickstarter backers. FREE SHIPPING

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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 9 backers
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    Pledge $499 or more About $499

    PUPPOD PILOT WITH PREMIUM DISPENSER
    Receive a PupPod toy, a PupPod hub, a Pet Tutor dispenser, 2-years of PupCloud online service, and the PupPod mobile app. Recommended for backers who want early access to PupPod and will contribute feedback to improve the product.

    2-years of PupCloud is valued at $240. The PupPod mobile app will be available for iOS and Android. The Pet Tutor dispenser is recommended for backers who want the highest quality dispenser, such as dog trainers, shelters, or doggie daycare.

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Funding period

- (30 days)