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Japan's home appliance makers create products for pets

Tokyo

AN increasing number of home appliances for pets are hitting the shelves in Japan, such as cameras that allow owners to watch the adorable actions of their dogs and cats from outside their home.

Home appliance makers are beefing up efforts to develop high-quality products, pinning their hopes on an increasing trend of pet owners who are willing to spend more money, as they regard pets as family members.

A 54-year-old company employee and his wife in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture both work so their toy poodle is home alone during the day on weekdays. The man said that he is worried about their pet during the working day. "The dog is a part of our family. I wished there was a camera that allowed me to watch it during my spare time at work," he said.

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Reflecting the sentiments of such pet owners, Panasonic Corp will release a camera in December that takes images of pets at home and other places and sends live video to the smartphones of far-away owners. A sensor of the camera detects the pet, enabling the lens to track it, even if they run around. The camera will also be equipped with a function to record video footage.

Sharp Corp will on Nov 15 release an air purifier that has a special mode for dogs and cats. Depending on whether the owner registers a dog or cat, the air purifier will release a breeze for dogs, which are normally more sensitive to the heat, and refrain from releasing wind flow to cats, which are more sensitive to the cold.

Sharp entered the pet-related home appliances market in July with a cat toilet that automatically records data on cats such as the cat's weight and the frequency and amount of urination. Owners can also apply for a paid service that notifies them of any abnormalities that are detected in changes of recorded data. "We aim to post sales worth 10 billion yen (S$123.4 million) in the pet appliance field within two years," an official in charge of the appliances said.

An analyst who specialises in the home appliances market said that the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, which affected numerous pets as well as people, has become a turning point that made the public realise anew the strength of the bond between owners and their pets. This became a catalyst for home appliance makers to step up efforts to develop products for pets, the analyst said.

According to the Tokyo-based Japan Pet Food Association, there were about 18.44 million pet cats and dogs in 2017 - exceeding the human population of those aged under 15, which was about 15 million. WP