If you needed proof that the surveillance society is truly ubiquitous, look no further than Ebo — a robot that live-streams HD video of your pet straight to your phone and can even track your furry friend’s daily step count.
Launched on Kickstarter, Ebo doesn’t exactly represent a new concept in pet tech, but it does manage to combine features from a number of products we’ve seen before.
Ebo is mobile, autonomous, and can live-stream video to your phone
It’s mobile, whizzing around on a pair of self-righting wheels, and can entertain your pet under its own steam using a combination of lights, sounds, and a feather on its head. It can live-stream footage from a 1080p HD camera, take photos and video, and, when paired with a companion collar, even tell owners how much daily exercise their cat is getting.
In other words: it’s a pretty complete pet surveillance package. Users can even set schedules for Ebo’s activity. The company says the robot is able to autonomously return to its charging dock when it runs out of battery.
A note on crowdfunding:
Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.
The best defense is to use your best judgment. Ask yourself: does the product look legitimate? Is the company making outlandish claims? Is there a working prototype? Does the company mention existing plans to manufacture and ship finished products? Has it completed a Kickstarter before? And remember: you’re not necessarily buying a product when you back it on a crowdfunding site.
Given that Ebo is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, our usual qualifications and warnings apply for crowdfunded projects. Products like this don’t always live up to their sales pitch, and it’s often best to wait and see what the final version looks like.
As a former cat owner, I’m also a little skeptical that Ebo could manage to keep a feline’s interest for too long. In my experience, once cats get familiar with weird robots (or other pets), they tend to ignore them. Though that may vary depending on the temperament of your cat.
At heart, Ebo really is just a pet robot for your pet cat. It reminds me of that classic tweet: “Sometimes I wonder if I spoil the cat, seeing him with his iPad, in his yurt.”