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Pet product designed to challenge notions of what dogs and cats can learn

Dog with hackerpet hub

“We believe that those who have dogs or cats know that there’s a lot going on in their minds,” noted Trottier. “We literally have no idea what these animals we live with can do. By engaging a community of curious enthusiasts — makers, pet hackers, tinkerers — we’re looking to find this out.”

(PRWeb.com) — CleverPet, maker of the first and only game console for dogs and cats, today announced the release of hackerpet, an enhancement of CleverPet’s flagship product, the CleverPet Hub.

pug with hackerpet hub
photo by Leo Trottie, courtesy of hackerpet press assets

The Hub, designed by PhDs in the cognitive sciences, works by engaging and entertaining dogs and cats with light, sound, and touch-based games, providing food rewards to teach dogs and cats to succeed at games that get more challenging over time.

hackerpet gives customers full control of the Hub’s hardware, as well as access to CleverPet’s previously proprietary training algorithms, under the open source AGPL license.

Adding new or customized games to the Hub can be done from a web browser. A community of users is already actively developing with hackerpet, and has created games that integrate with smartphones and external hardware.

“After getting CleverPet into customers’ hands we learned that what people love most about it are those ‘aha!’ moments when their dog or cat figures out something new,” said Leo Trottier, CleverPet’s CEO. “With hackerpet, we’re enabling users by giving them a toolset for discovering who their dog or cat really is.”

The release of hackerpet represents yet another shift in the pet industry toward the value of realizing dogs’ and cats’ untapped potential.

The pet industry has historically not taken seriously the idea that dogs and cats can learn or that they possess vivid mental lives. This has changed in recent years, in part precipitated by the landmark discovery of Dr. John Pilley in 2007.

With his dog Chaser, Dr. Pilley showed it was possible to teach a dog simple phrases and the names of more than a 1,000 objects, demonstrating just how little we know about the animals millions of us live alongside.

“We believe that those who have dogs or cats know that there’s a lot going on in their minds,” noted Trottier. “We literally have no idea what these animals we live with can do. By engaging a community of curious enthusiasts — makers, pet hackers, tinkerers — we’re looking to find this out.”

The hackerpet platform consists of:

•CleverPet’s complete training curriculum,
•CleverPet’s new Reports,
•a community of enthusiastic “pet hackers” creating new games, adding custom hardware peripherals, setting up game streaming over Twitch, sharing pet videos on TikTok, and meeting regularly online.

Reports is a new, free service that enables a connected hackerpet Hub to instantly send a report from a game to a Google Sheet owned by the user. Customers can quickly see whether the game their player is playing is too easy or too challenging, how much kibble or treats a player has consumed, and what level of difficulty the player has reached. By setting the sheet as a data source for software such as Google Data Studio, customers can show off their player’s prowess easily through powerful data visualization tools.

Designed under the guidance of Mike Nuttall, co-founder of the renowned design firm IDEO, the CleverPet Hub represented a radical re-thinking of what a product for dogs and cats could be. It joined together attractive design and usability for both people and companion animals with extreme durability and intrusion resistance against motivated pups, to the acclaim of customers, product designers, companion animal experts, and technologists.

Beyond the hardware, however, CleverPet was the first to invent an entirely automated process for training dogs and cats to use an electronic device. Dogs and cats (or “players” as they’re called in the pet hacking community) often start off wary, unwilling to engage with what is, to them, a piece of plastic that’s large, noisy, and moves surprisingly.

CleverPet developed and carefully tested a software training curriculum based in the latest techniques from animal behavior science. These algorithms successfully trained thousands of players to the point where the dog or cat could “see the light” and understand that the Hub’s lights were something for the player to pay attention to.

Below is video of a Parson Russell Terrier pushing the correct buttons to get treats:

With this release of hackerpet, CleverPet’s once proprietary algorithms are now open for the public to use, modify and share. The sequence of challenges is available on the hackerpet Git repository on Github, and can be quickly and easily installed from the hackerpet library within Particle’s build environment. In addition, pet hackers can easily install games developed by themselves or the pet hacking community.

Pricing and availability

 

hackerpet is immediately available to most CleverPet users. While CleverPet Hubs are currently unavailable in anticipation of the release of the CleverPet V2, a small number of refurbished hackerpet-compatible CleverPet Hubs are available for sale to a limited audience. Those interested in acquiring a Hub and joining the growing community of pet hackers should sign up at hackerpet.com.

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