Cats. The magic, the beauty, the poetry in motion. Everywhere. They're either asleep or wrecking the joint. Or sitting on your keyboard.
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Amir Guterman adores his three cats. He plays with them, pampers them. But some years ago, he couldn't help but notice that while he was programming at home to keep a roof over their furry heads, the cats were being a pain.
Guterman wondered how to keep the animals occupied so he could work.
The outcome was a robotic arm shaking a toy fishing line. The Israeli phoned Gilad Gelfand, owner of a pet supplies shop. Gelfand suggested the frustrated programmer take a picture with his phone to show him the game and the startup Cat2See was born.
The fake fisher was just the beginning. A true cat lover wants to watch his love object wreak havoc and in today's Internet of Things, to control matters too.
Cat2See's product today combines three elements that would but the NSA to shame.
The first is an IT webcam controllable by mobile app or browser, letting you spy on Mittens. The second is the fishing pole, which can be controlled remotely. The third is a feeder that can be programmed to serve food to the cat at defined times, or at the spur of the moment.
The webcam was designed in collaboration with Texas Instruments, which has been proudly demonstrating the device in exhibits around the world, says Gelfand.
Yes, you can feed and play with your cats – and watch them worshipfully - from somewhere else. And how cool is this – you can let somebody else control the device.
Moreover, the feeder can be automated, to release a set amount of food at set times. Or you can operate it whenever you feel like it.
Cats, the social network
Cat2See also features a social network to connect cat owners, who are legion. Hundreds of millions of households have cats around the world, among them 50 million households in the United States.
The startup thereby returns the Internet to its original purpose – sharing cat pictures and videos.
Cats are the most viral thing on the Internet after sex; 23% of the blogs on the Internet are on cat topics, says Gilad Gelfand, co-founder and CEO. One out of every five pictures on Instagram is of cats."
The company has completed pilots of the game-webcam-feeder among 450 be-catted households in Israel. Manufacturing should start in early August and shipments a month later.
The camera is the brain of the operation. You can choose to buy just it, if you want to watch as Shadow shreds the couch. The feeder and fishing pole come separately and will cost $59 each. Or you can get the entire kit at a discount price of $169.
The world sits up and begs
The world's response has been extraordinary, especially as Cat2See hasn't even started advertising yet.
"On our website, we've been pre-booking orders from the whole world – Canada, United States, Colombia, New Zealand, Brazil and more. I was in shock. Pre-orders are coming in from countries I never even heard of," Gelfand jokes.
Shipping is included in the price, with certain exceptions. Cattists can join the waiting list for free.
Being founded by cat appreciators, even before it's begun mass production, Cat2See has begun working with certain adoption agencies in the U.S. "We're donating systems to them for their 'adoption rooms.'" People can virtually meet the cats, watch the cats in action before driving to the place to pick it up, he says, adding: " We want cats to be happy."
Wrapping up the conversation, Gelfand proves that he's in the zone. "People wondered why we got into this. They don't get it. Cats are the strongest thing in the world today," he avers. "They're the strongest thing on Internet, cats are the most interesting pet. There's nothing like cats. Cats are king." Yeah.