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Innovation + Job News

Anser Innovation blends tech-based communication with pet ownership

Imagine being on a business trip and talking to your dog at home before the next meeting, and even giving him a treat for good behavior. Welcome to PetChatz.
Developed by Minneapolis-based Anser Innovation, the web-based "pet phone" is a unique product that's poised to tap into the enormous pet accessory market. CEO Lisa Lavin notes that even though the product isn't on the market yet--look for it this fall--the reaction has already been strong.
"We did national consumer research, and the response was amazing," she says. "About 76 percent of people we polled said they'd have high interest in PetChatz. We thought the product would be popular, but that number blew us away."
The idea for PetChatz comes from Mark Kroll, a medical device inventor who holds hundreds of patents. During lunch with him, Lavin asked if he had any patents that he wasn't using, and he talked about the "greet and treat videophone" that he'd envisioned for pet owners. The pair worked together, along with others on the Anser team, to make his vision into a working prototype.
The applications for the technology are broad, Lavin believes. For example, a pet boarding facility might install it in suites so that owners can check in on their pets and reduce separation anxiety (on both sides). Anser has teamed with KLN Enterprises' Tuffy's Pet Foods to design treats that can be given via the device.
The company anticipates hiring leading up to the launch in a few months, and growth after the product hits the market. In the future, this type of technology could be used for other markets, like communicating with seniors for elder care, or checking in with children in daycare, Lavin notes.
"We're building a platform for products that enhance remote communication," she says. "We're starting with the retail pet market, but there are so many directions we can go from there."
Source: Lisa Lavin, Anser Innovation
Writer: Elizabeth Millard
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