You’ve been asked to stay late at work or want to spend a long day away with your family or friends, but what about the cat? Even if someone comes by to feed her, scoop out her litterbox, and spend a little time with her, she’s still going to be left alone for many hours with no opportunity for interaction. How to fill in the time for her?
Enter a smart robot named Ebo, a softball-size robot that you can direct from afar with an app on your mobile phone. The toy will not only play with your pet but will also allow you to check in on her.
Part of the cat fun: modified games of tag. Specifically, Ebo will fake out your cat with advances and retreats. Some models will even dance, let your cat hear you speak to her, and shine a laser light for her to chase and “pounce on.” This latest addition to a growing list of interactive gadgets for entertaining pets has been written up in such publications as techacute.com and wired.com.
How it works
Ebo has a docking station, much like a Roomba vacuum, and can be set to leave its charger at scheduled times. You can leave it on automatic or, if you have a little time between business meetings, use your phone app to direct how it moves around your home and interacts with your cat.
The toy begins its foray into your cat’s environment with a 360-degree scan of its surroundings to make note of obstacles to avoid. Then it sets off — on wood floors, tile, and carpeting, searching for your cat with facial recognition hardware. Some models can right themselves if they tip while changing surfaces and will even avoid falling down stairs with their autostop feature.
The amiable plaything has a white plastic casing with a black screen, and a lit heart appears when it powers on, with a wifi signal showing that you can connect via your app. It also makes eye movements as its goes and emits a variety of endearing vocalizations, from purring to exclamations. When the gizmo is running low on power, or when you choose from your phone, it returns to its docking station like a good robot in order to recharge.
You can slow or increase the toy’s speed, and better yet, you can allow access to others so that they, too, can interact with your pet — or even just watch her as she plays or naps. That’s a plus if the extra hours you are asked to put in include a meeting that won’t allow for a quick peek of your pet to make sure she’s okay. Just remember that as Ebo makes its way around, your friends will be able to see your home, including laundry on the floor. The video is not stored on the cloud or anywhere else, but images can be shared via social media using the options available on the app.
There are four models, each providing different and increasingly complex features, with prices ranging from $119 to $249. Check out enabot.com.