Testing Petzi, The Pet Cam That Shoots TreatsBy Derek Ward, Published Aug 14, 2015, 12:00am EDT
Do you love dogs?
Do you love the Internet of Things?
Then we have a product for you.
Half camera, half remote-controlled pet treat dispenser, Petzi lets you shoot treats at your dog. That's my dog going for a Petzi treat:
After doubling their IndieGogo goals in 2013, Petzi has finally hit the market, promising users an easy way to look in on, talk to, and best of all, shoot treats at their pets.
For those looking to keep an eye on their pet and treat it, while they are away from home, Petzi may be attractive. It works well for looking in on pets and dispensing treats, but those looking for security features should look elsewhere, as Petzi's lack of motion detection or any type of recording makes it unsuitable for surveillance.
Obviously this is niche, but rather than be just another Dropcam wannabe or Chinese OEM, it takes a novel approach at a specific segment. We think this is a good example of real Internet of Things, that would be wise to emulate in other areas.
These are our key points from this test:
Shoot Treats at Your Pets
The most novel feature of the camera, dispensing treats via the mobile phone app, works simply. Any treat under about 1" around may be used, and released with via a button in the app. There is a delay of ~4-5 seconds before the treats are "fired", up to about 3' from the camera.
Simple Setup Process
Setup for both connecting the camera to a wifi network and account creation takes ~5 minutes total. Users connect to the camera via wifi and are walked through account creation and network setup.
Users can talk to their pets when viewing the camera right from the live view, and while the audio from the camera is usually okay, user's voices sound slightly deeper and trying to talk to your pets while on an unstable 3G or wifi signal could result in choppy audio output.
Social Network Aspect
Note that Petzi forces users to join their social network (or "petwork", as they call it), with no way of opting out. Nothing is shared without user permission and network users do not have access to others' Petzi video, only pet pictures which are manually shared.
Petzi sells for ~$170 USD Online. This is slightly lower than other consumer cameras, typically around the $200 mark.
Treat Throwing Demonstration
Here, we demonstrate the treat throwing application. Users should note:
- Anywhere between 1-5 treats or so are dispensed each time depending on the size of the treat.
- Users may not always see the treats as they are shot from the camera, as the shooting mechanism may shoot the treats low and out of the FOV.
- The delay between activating the treat shooting is ~4 seconds, which gives users time to use the microphone to get their pets attention prior to the treats release.
We demonstrate this feature in this video:
In the video below, we overview the physical construction of the Petzi treat camera.
As a size comparison, below we have the Petzi and Google Nest Cam side by side.
Not Suitable For Security
Petzi is unsuitable for security purposes for multiple reasons:
- No video motion detection is included in the camera.
- Petzi does not record video of any sort, either locally or to the cloud. Snapshots may be taken manually via mobile app.
- The camera is typically mounted lower to the ground than most cameras due to its treat dispensing features, making it less than ideal for security.
- Its integrated IR is disabled in initial releases, making nighttime video especially poor compared to other consumer cameras such as Nest.
Other Features Lacking
There are several other features missing in Petzi found in typical consumer cameras, as well:
Only One User Per Camera
Currently, Petzi supports only one user account per camera with no sharing with other users. Petzi says they are working to allow more users to access one device.
No Configuration Settings
There are no configuration or CODEC settings that users can change themselves. After contacting customer support, their reply was "None of the CODEC or camera settings are user accessible beyond what is visible inside the App."
Forced Social Network
Currently, users are automatically enrolled in the Petzi social network upon account creation and setup with no way to back out. When we asked customer support about this, their reply was "As for the Petzi Social Network, it is a part of the product that you are enrolled in as a default, I'll be sure to pass along to the developers that the option to be able to back out has been brought up."
Limited Viewing Angle
Petzi is a wall mount unit which uses a fixed lens (~80-90°) with no adjustable gimbal. Users may need to either tilt the unit upwards or downwards to better see their pets depending on where the camera is placed.
Initial setup is quick and simple, requiring users to download the Petzi app to smartphones or tablets, create an account, and add the camera to their network. After this process is complete, the app checks for firmware and takes users to the main menu. This process is similar to other consumer surveillance cameras such as the Google Nest Cam or Samsung's SmartCams.
Lastly, we take a look at image quality from the Petzi camera.
In full light, image quality is fair, with no notable issues.
However, the unit's integrated IR illuminators are currently disabled with no option to turn them on, making low light video (about ~0.1 lux below) especially poor. Petzi tells us they plan to enable IR illumination in future firmware releases. We will update these comparisons if so.
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