[This is part of a series on The Connected Home. To see other articles in the series click here.]
People in the US (and presumably all around the world) are increasingly obsessed with their pets. In 2013 alone, Americans spent almost $56 billion on their pets. One company looking to cash in on that market is Petzila. Petzila’s goal is to bring “pets and their owners closer together through today’s most popular trends and technologies.” Their first product is the Petzi Treat Cam and, if my family is indicative of the broader market, they’re off to a great start.
With the Petzi Treat Cam you can monitor and interact with your pets from anywhere in the world. Setup is a breeze. Simply mount/place the camera in a convenient location, connect the device to your home WiFi connection using the free Petzi app, create a Petzi account, and you’re off and running. The Petzi Treat Cam is AC powered so there’s no battery to worry about. It’s always on and ready to go. The unit itself is sturdy and seems like it could stand up to getting knocked around a bit. I never dropped it or anything but it does seem dog resistant.
The Petzi Treat Cam is designed to allow you to “See, Speak, Snap, and Treat” your pet and it accomplishes all of those functions. The Petzi application is well designed and makes accessing all of the Petzi features simple. It has quick button access to the chime, treat, screenshot, speaker, and settings functions. It also has a built in social network where you can see and share photos of your pets and other users’ pets. I wasn’t a big fan of the social functions but my wife loved looking through the photos of other peoples’ pets.
My family has a dog that is crated when no one is home so we placed the Petzi on a shelf near the crate. There are multiple mounting options included in the box – a strap, rubber feet, mounting screws. I had no trouble finding a suitable way to setup the unit.
The wide angle camera allows you see what your animal is doing at any time. The camera features a night mode that kicks in when light levels are low. I never experienced any problem seeing my dog in anything but a completely dark room. The camera isn’t super-high resolution (actual resolution isn’t listed in the documentation) but it does get the job done.
There’s an internal speaker in the camera unit that allows you to communicate with your pet. You can use the chime button in the app to sound a tone. This is used to get your pet’s attention. Presumably your pet will learn to come over to the camera whenever it sounds. The speaker is quite loud and the volume can be adjusted through the Petzi app.
By using the microphone on your phone you can actually talk to your animal. Just hold down the microphone icon in the app and speak. A few seconds later your animal will hear you through the integrated speaker. It’s really a lot of fun. Unfortunately there’s no microphone on the actual Petzi Treat Cam so you cannot hear anything that your pet says (!) back but you can see their reactions.
The “snap” feature lets you easily take screenshots from within the app. The screenshot feature is fast which makes you more likely to get the shot you are after. You can then share them like any other photo or upload them to the Petzi social media service. The social media service lets you “Awww” or comment on photos. You can also follow other posters. It’s pretty basic stuff but, as I mentioned earlier, my wife enjoyed it.
The “treat” functionality is the highlight feature of the Petzi Treat Cam – for the owners and the pets. It allows you to load small crunchy treats into a receptacle and then launch them across the room. Petzila includes mini dog and cat treats in the box. Just tap the treat icon in the Petzi app and 2-3 treats will drop into the launching chamber. Then an arm will fling them several feet through the air so that your animal can retrieve and consume them. There’s a distinctive sound when the treats drop into the chamber. Our dog quickly learned to pay attention when she heard that noise.
Whenever we’d load up the Petzi app at parties or social gatherings this was the favorite feature. Everyone loved seeing and talking to the dog but feeding her was the hands-down favorite thing to do. There’s just something cool about delivering treats to your pet from miles away.
Let’s face it, the Petzi Treat Cam is a luxury purchase. At $160 it isn’t a cheap impulse buy. But it is a heck of a lot of fun. I’m no great animal lover but even I really enjoyed seeing and talking to our dog while out and about. If you’ve got the money to spend I think you will really enjoy the Petzi Treat Cam. It does what it says it will do and does it well.