Leaving pets at home when you go out can often be a leap of faith. I have two dogs and they are very well behaved. They don’t mind me going away for a few hours, but one of them has a fondness for the tissues in the garbage can, and the other is scared to death of window cleaners (don’t ask).
Because I like to keep an eye on what they’re up to, over the years I’ve invested in a few WiFi cameras around the house, and it’s great for monitoring them. But I can’t cover every inch of my house, and tracking them everywhere is tricky.
That’s why I was absolutely looking forward to testing a new gadget called Ebo Air, from Enabot. I’m a big fan of robotic tech, and this one is pretty simple like robots do, but it does a great job of tracking my two pooches.
Shaped a bit like a small motorcycle helmet, it sits on grippy tracks and its “visor” accommodates an HD camera and basic digital display. Inside is some pretty smart AI technology and a laser pointer. I will come back to that.
“Ebo” connects to your home WiFi and sits on a charging base, ready to be put into action via a well-designed smartphone app.
So, while I’m away, I can load up Ebo’s control panel, use a virtual joystick to move it around, and track down each of my pets.
Honey, my three-year-old Labradoodle, the one who hates window cleaners, is a little wary of Ebo, especially when I use his speakerphone to talk to him from a distance. But Rupert, a five-year-old Cockapoo, loves it. He follows him and watches him as he bumps into things, falls, and gets back up, all the while making cute electronic noises.
It is not only a pet monitoring and home security device. It is also a toy. Ebo contains a set of pre-programmed maneuvers that spin it in a casual way, designed to trigger an animal’s interest and play reflex. And the best for my dogs is his laser pointer. Press a button on the smartphone’s video screen and it will project a little red dot that will drive dogs and cats wild with excitement.
So I could be sitting in the pub while following my dogs. Reporting Rupert for slashing fabrics, comforting Honey because a guy just put a ladder on the neighbor’s house, or playing with them and watching their cheerful responses on my phone screen. It’s brilliant.
There are even other potential uses for Ebo. You can keep tabs on an elderly relative or use it as a family communication tool if you have to be away from work. Its software allows it to automatically track and track a human or pet, so in theory it will never lose sight of them.
That’s the theory. Although the tracking system is excellent, Ebo has a habit of getting stuck from time to time. And if it gets stuck while you’re at the supermarket, there’s no way to free it. I tried to ask the pets via the remote intercom, but they just stared at me blankly.
Ebo is also supposed to have sensors to keep it from falling down stairs, but that just didn’t work in my testing. Luckily though, it’s really sturdy, so even though Ebo makes some rather plaintive noises, it still survives and I still don’t have a mark on it.
It is also quite expensive. You’ll need to come up with £230 if you want Ebo to patrol your house while you’re away. High technology comes at a high price.
But there’s a lot to like about it. I love how it provides some form of companionship, even virtual, for my dogs. I know they see it as just a fancy toy, but the security of being able to watch and talk to them is priceless.
And I love the fact that I can save photos and videos of them fooling around and playing, and I love how Ebo automatically returns to its base when its battery starts to run low. “I’m going home to recharge,” he announces, in his unique accent. Cute.
So I loved having Ebo in my life. Dogs love it too. It’s not without its flaws, but there are so many potential uses for something like it, so its versatility is almost as endearing as its cute little noises. I guess I now have three pets.