BeagleBone Black project spotlight: Petcube

As Alex Neskin slipped out the front door for work, he couldn’t
help but feel the heartache as he heard the barks and cries from
his Chihuahua, Rocky. It was the same routine every day. He would
try to sneak out the door attempting to be unnoticed by Rocky, but
every time the door would shut, the barking and crying would start.
The separation anxiety not only took a toll on him and Rocky, but
even the neighbors when they had to deal with the unnerving sound
of a barking dog. This separation anxiety is what led Alex to
create Petcube.

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Petcube is a gadget that lets you watch, talk and play laser games
with your pet through a mobile application, anytime, anywhere. Alex
came up with the design of a movable webcam combined with a laser so
he could see his best friend while he controlled the laser (Rocky’s
favorite toy!) to entertain him.

The aesthetic design of Petcube is a 10x10x10 aluminum and glass
cube. Its internal hardware contains a wide angle camera, laser
diode, two servo motors to control it, microphone and speakers. The
camera allows you to take pictures and videos and share them with
friends all while live video streaming to your phone. The
microphone lets you hear your pet, and the speakers enable you to
call them over.

Petcube uses the
BeagleBone Black computer
, based on a TI
Sitara processor
, with a custom cape to control all peripherals. Alex
chose the BeagleBone Black computer for the Petcube because of its
open schematics that allowed him to create a custom board with a
unique shape and design. “Everything works pretty much easy and
fast out of the box,” said Alex.

The live video streaming is the most intriguing attribute of the
Petcube. According to Alex, the real-time interaction not only puts
pet owners at ease, but also keeps pets entertained and out of
trouble. Alex also plans to put a number of Petcubes in animal
shelters. Petcube has started partnering with U.S. shelters in
order to boost adoption rates. There are an estimated 5 million
pets that enter shelters every year, and Petcube hopes to help find
homes for these homeless animals. Public streaming will allow
people to see and play with homeless dogs and cats. This will not
only improve the emotional and physical health of the homeless
animals, but could also lead to more adoptions by giving more
exposure to the animals.

One thing is clear after talking to Alex: Petcube is committed to
improving the lives of pets and their parents with technology. They plan
to expand their product line with other high-tech pet accessories.
They are planning on integrating Petcube with collars and feeders,
allowing pets to have scheduled feeding times with portion control.