Petcube is a sleek little connected product that lets you see, talk to, and even play with your pet remotely.

The device will include an app that lets you control it from your smartphone.

Petcube can't replace a contact with a real person, and it's not supposed to do so. It is just an extra way for pet parents to keep in touch with their loved ones.

Petcube was inspired by its designer's lonely, hyperactive chihuahua puppy, who would "bark, scratch at the doors, and massively disturb the neighbors."

Just like a webcam, any Petcube can be configured for shared or public access--which means that lonely shelter animals could get an additional dose of attention from people anywhere on Earth.

Petcube's creators plan to deploy the device to pet shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"People will get a chance to contact the shelter immediately after playing with a cat or a dog. . .we expect that it will help to raise adoption rates," Petcube's CEO says.

Petcube's shelter program is also intended as a feel-good, consequence-free way for potential customers to test-drive the Petcube experience itself and entice them to buy.

Even if you don't adopt a cat or dog after playing with one through the Petcube, you've done some good for a disadvantaged animal...

...and it may get you thinking about the furry companion at your own home.

Petcube has a built-in laser toy that you can use to play games with your pet remotely.

It also has a wide-angle video camera and microphone, so you and your favorite furball can see and hear each other.

If you don't like the cold steel look, Petcube will offer a selection of fuzzy, cute "skins" to drap over the device.

The device's industrial design is meant to be as neutral as possible, so it can fit into any home's decor.

Co.Design

Petcube Will Let You Play With Shelter Pets Before Adopting Them

Or just let you have quality time with your own pet when you can't be at home.

Alex Neskin's chihuahua puppy, Rocky, was going crazy. Whenever the Ukrainian technologist would go to work, Rocky would "bark, scratch at the doors, and massively disturb the neighbors," he tells Co.Design. Neskin couldn't exactly hire Cesar Millan to make house calls every day, so he decided to create the next best thing: Petcube. It's a sleek little connected product that lets you see, talk to, and even play with your pet remotely.

Sure, Petcube may look more like HAL 9000 than a pet webcam—not least because it includes a red laser you can control to play games with your pup or kitty—but according to Neskin's partner and Petcube CEO Yaroslav Azhnyuk, the device is all heart. "Great inventions come from bitter experiences," Azhnyuk says. "Rocky begged for a bit of attention and something to interact with. Sure, Petcube can't replace a contact with a real person and it's not supposed to do so. It is just an extra way for pet parents to keep in touch with their loved ones." (Petcube's Kickstarter campaign does say that the team designed some cute and furry "skins" to cover the device with, if the metal sci-fi look isn't your thing—or your pet's.)

What's most interesting about Petcube, though, is that its creators plan to deploy the device to pet shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Azhnyuk says that several shelters have already expressed interest in getting a prototype Petcube.) Just like a webcam, any Petcube can be configured for shared or public access—which means that lonely shelter animals could get an additional dose of attention from people anywhere on Earth. "It's much more fun and engaging than browsing funny cat videos," Azhnyuk says. "People will get a chance to contact the shelter immediately after playing with a cat or a dog ... we expect that it will help to raise adoption rates."

And not just adoption rates for the pets. Azhnyuk adds that the shelter program is also intended as a feel-good, consequence-free way for potential customers to test-drive the Petcube experience itself and entice them to buy. Even if you don't adopt a cat or dog after playing with one through the Petcube, you've done some good for a disadvantaged animal, and it may get you thinking about the furry companion at your own home. But if you want one, you'll have to help Petcube meet its Kickstarter goal first.

[Learn more about Petcube]

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