Ten tech innovations for the pet of the future

Ten tech innovations for the pet of the future

Anyone who uses social media knows that the popularity of “pet parenting” has exploded in the U.S. The ASPCA estimates that approximately 70 million dogs and 74 million cats live in U.S. households — and that’s on the conservative side. Every week, developers and inventors are creating new apps and devices to help pet lovers find, care for, board and entertain their furry friends. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest innovations for the pet of the future.

Find a Pet to Adopt

Promising to help you “find fluffy singles near you,” BarkBuddy is an app that bills itself as “Tinder for dogs.” The app lets you view adoptable rescue pups in your area and swipe to choose potential matches.

Keep Your Pet Healthy Without the Hassle

Bringing pets to the vet can be a huge source of stress for pet owners, so services like VetPronto are popping up to help alleviate the inconvenience with veterinary house calls you can book from an app. Currently available in the San Francisco area, VetPronto’s house calls cost $150 and include a comprehensive exam and prescriptions, and, at just $50 for additional pets, can offer big savings if you have multiple four-legged pals. They’re also available evenings and weekends, making life easier for working pet parents. BarkCare, which is currently in private beta, aims to offer a similar service in New York City.

Monitor Your Pet’s Whereabouts and Activity

Whistle bills itself as the world’s most popular GPS pet tracker. Just attach the Whistle device to your pet’s collar, set a “safe zone” around your home in which you’re comfortable with your pet roaming, and you can track its movements and get alerts if it wanders out of the safe zone. Whistle also works as an activity tracker, and monitors temperature to alert you to extreme weather conditions.

Find a Good Pet Sitter

DogVacay is like AirBnb, but for pet sitting. Just enter your zip code and a few parameters such as whether you want to board your pet in your home or in the sitter’s place, and DogVacay promises to show you trusted pet sitters in your area.Holidog offers a similar service, and includes walking and pet check-in visits in addition to full boarding, while DoggyBnB works by using your social networks to help you find a trusted friend to cat or dog sit.

Keep Your Pet Entertained

The Wag app promises background-checked dog walkers in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City areas. It also allows you to track your dog’s walk in real time on a map on your phone, providing entertainment for you as well as your pet. Worthee offers a similar service in the Chicagoland area.

If your pets tend to get lonely while you’re at work or out and about, you can check in on them and interact with PetCube. The streamlined $199 device lets you stream live video of your pet through an app on your phone, and a two-way audio feed lets you “converse” with your pet as well.

(Heidi Flato; verizonwireless.com/news; October 9, 2015)

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Connect With Mexico and Canada for Less!

Global travel has effectively shrunk the size of our world, allowing voyagers to reconnect with loved ones, experience new cultures, and enjoy life in a way that few imagined not so many years ago.  Technology is now taking those capabilities even further, enabling people and businesses around the world to join together anytime, anywhere – and making a reliable, simple and affordable international connection a necessity.

Today, Verizon introduced simplified International Value plans that offer coverage across the globe, making keeping in touch easier than ever:

New Rates to Mexico and Canada

Calling to Mexico and Canada is now more simple and affordable. When you add $5 per month per line under the International Value plan, calling to Mexico and Canada is $0.00 a minute (airtime charges apply).  Prepaid customers also are eligible for this new addition to our family of international options.

Rates in Mexico and Canada

When traveling within Mexico and Canada, $25 per line per month will let you talk for 500 minutes to U.S. or local numbers while in Mexico; send up to 500 text messages and receive unlimited text messages; and use 1GB of data to share photos or update social media.   Additional blocks of 100MB can be purchased for $10 if needed.

If you plan to pack away the phone and only use it in Canada and Mexico when absolutely necessary, you can Pay-As-You-Go at 99¢ per minute for voice and $2.05 per megabyte.

Traveling elsewhere? We’ve got a plan for you

If you are visiting one of more than 140 countries around the world or simply relaxing on one of 400 plus cruise ships, $40 per line lets you talk for 100 minutes, send up to 100 text messages and receive unlimited text messages.  Data can be added for $25 per 100MB, with additional 100MB allowances for $25.  Pay-As-You-Go rates are $1.79 per minute for voice and $2.05 per megabyte for data.

Other International Travel

If you’re not traveling to one of the 140 plus countries or 400 cruise ships with the preferred pricing, you can use the Pay-As-You-Go pricing at $2.99 per minute for voice and $2.05 per megabyte for data.

No matter what country or time zone you are in, Verizon offers 24/7 customer service to help with any questions you have about your device or to make sure you are on the best  price plan for the next leg of the trip.

So during your next international journey don’t forget to check-in with home, post those great photos, and make sure the thermostat is down.  Verizon has you covered.

(David Samberg; www.verizonwireless.com/news; 7/16/2015)

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More Cities, More Towns: Verizon Expands XLTE to Six Additional Markets to Provide a Superior Customer Experience

XLTE gives more to Verizon Wireless customers by taking advantage of AWS spectrum to add capacity to its award-winning 4G LTE network.

July 28, Verizon announced XLTE is now available in six additional markets, bringing double the 4G LTE bandwidth and greater peak speeds in more than 400 markets coast to coast.

That means that 4 out of 5 Verizon Wireless 4G LTE markets, large and small, from New York to San Diego, from Chicago to Miami and beyond, are powered by Verizon Wireless XLTE.  If data were cars, it would be like doubling the number of lanes on a freeway from 10 to 20 – XLTE allows data to move faster.

For customers who are visiting, traveling to or living in these cities and towns, XLTE will enhance their mobile experience when they visit local attractions, landmarks, festivals and more. With XLTE, customers can share photos, stay connected to their social networks to share the experience with friends and family and get information faster than before:

  • Carlsbad-Artesia, NM – When sightseeing at the Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, quickly share images and videos of nature’s beauty.
  • Coos Bay-North Bend, OR – While visiting the Coos Art Museum, Mingus Park and the birthplace of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine, look up historical information and facts.
  • Corbin, KY – At the home of the NIBROC (Corbin spelled backwards) festival, share videos and music of the open-air concerts and other events.
  • Jackson, MS – Share photos of blue ribbon winners at the Mississippi State Fair in October.
  • Selma, AL – Before checking out Sturdivant Hall, the National Voting Rights Museum, Old Depot Museum and Vaughan-Smitherman Museum, get museum information…and share the best exhibits from each museum after your visit.
  • Stevens Point-Marshfield, WI – At the world’s largest trivia contest, look up answers quickly while you watch more than 400 teams compete.

Mobile technology is only as good as the network it is on, and Verizon is providing the largest and most reliable 4G LTE network in these cities and towns.  Verizon helps enable a more mobile lifestyle for customers who are continuously on the go – to watch video, access the Internet, connect to social media, and more.

For more information on XLTE, visit XLTE by the Numbers.

(Paul Macchia; www.verizonwireless.com/news; 7/28/2015)

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Verizon’s First Response to Alaskan Wildfires

In the midst of record-setting Alaskan wildfires, the Verizon Crisis Response Team (VCRT) has activated for the first time in the state since launching retail stores last September. The crisis team is currently providing more than two dozen wireless devices, including smartphones, jetpacks (mobile hotspots) and a wireless router free of charge to crews fighting fires near Willow and Fairbanks. The wireless devices were requested by the federal Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Mat-Su Borough Emergency Services.

During an emergency, first responders rely on wireless more than ever to coordinate efforts in the face of fire, flood, snow and wind storm, quake, tornado, tsunami or hurricane. When the Alaskan wildfires ignited, Verizon network teams immediately began monitoring for any loss of power or wireless coverage at all cell sites—to ensure that residents and emergency crews could communicate.

The company also stands ready to provide mobile cell sites to enhance and expand emergency communications along the fire lines and if necessary, a wireless emergency command center (WECC) to assist citizens who’ve lost power and phone service along with access to computers and printers. The unit also comes with a charging station to power devices.

The VCRT works directly with emergency managers, firefighters and law enforcement at the local, state and federal level in all 50 states, assisting with critical wireless communications and providing wireless equipment and network communications assets free of charge.

 (Scott Charleston; www.verizonwireless.com/news; 7/2/2015)
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Super Bowl 50 Host Committee Plants Roots in San Francisco Verizon and Super Bowl 50 create a “green” legacy for the Bay Area with the first of many tree planting projects

San Francisco has one of the lowest tree canopy percentages of all major urban areas in the U.S., but Verizon, the National Football League, the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and local nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest plan to change that. On April 27th, they joined forces to plant several trees at Hillcrest Elementary School in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.

The new trees serve as the first permanent reminders of Super Bowl 50, and the project also celebrates the ceremonial “passing of the shovel” from the Arizona Super Bowl XLIX Host Committee to the Bay Area’s Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. This golden shovel, symbolizing the environmental community projects inspired by the Super Bowl each year, has been handed from one host community to the next for more than a decade.

Just days before the planting in San Francisco, City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton andVerizon Green Team volunteers lent a hand in the official golden shovel handoff to San Francisco at Keep Phoenix Beautiful’s PHX Renews site. Over the course of two days, a dozen trees were planted at both PHX Renews and at a location in South Phoenix, bringing the final total to more than 200 trees planted as part of the legacy of Super Bowl XLIX. One of the trees planted was a Fruitless Olive tree, and a similar tree was donated from Arizona to the people of San Francisco for the April 27 event.

“We are looking forward to working with great partners in the Bay Area where so many folks are aware and supportive of environmental issues,” said Jack Groh, Director of the NFL Environmental Program. “This is the 11th year we have supported urban forestry projects. The need for trees and the opportunity to plant them are great in the San Francisco area.”

This first tree planting is only a preview of future endeavors as the NFL, Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and other partners plan a series of urban forestry initiatives throughout the Bay Area in the months leading up to the big game.

Verizon is the first-ever NFL sustainability program sponsor and this will be the third year the network has partnered with the organization. As part of its support, Verizon has worked with the NFL and each regional host committee to create electronic waste recycling rallies, expand urban forestry projects such as tree plantings, and provide grants to local domestic violence organizations. Employee members of the Verizon Green Team have also been involved – donating their time and energy to help plant trees in each Super Bowl community.

The urban forestry program is just one part of the overall environmental and community initiatives that surround the Super Bowl each year. Other projects include solid waste recycling, collection and distribution of prepared food (69,000 pounds last year at Super Bowl XLIX), collection of public E-waste items for recycling and use of renewable energy to power the major public facilities hosting Super Bowl events, among many other initiatives. These projects are developed each year by the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee with significant support from Verizon and the more than 100 local schools, nonprofits and civic organizations that participate.

Verizon looks forward to celebrating 50 years of Super Bowl glory and continuing to partner with the NFL to give back to different communities across the country, one tree at a time.

(Heidi Flato; www.verizonwireless.com/news; 6/17/2015)

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How to Use Tech to Make DIY Father’s Day Gifts

Father’s Day is coming up, and instead of just reaching for a new pair of socks or box of macaroni, why not enhance your gift, and bring these classics into the future with a little tech magic?

With an app for everything, and tech add-ons available to give an old-school gift a little boost, the lead-up to Father’s Day can resemble a science fair or computer camp. Kids of all ages can add things from the cloud, and even tech hardware, to their gift-making toolbox — making great gift possibilities virtually endless.

Here are a few ideas on how to enhance your Father’s Day gifts using technology.

Screen Time for Dad

Set up an Instagram account and fill it with photos of you and your dad. For the final one, shoot a short video — you can wish him a Happy Father’s Day, or even sing 15-seconds of his favorite song. Be sure to include a hashtag you’ve specialized just for him — you can use it again in the future, tying together all of your Father’s Day gifts to come.

Enhance this gift: You can even print the photos out as decals, allowing the gift to live on your dad’s phone, as well as the walls of your home. You could even create a custom case for his smartphone, featuring a collage of the photos (there’s an app for that, too).


An interactive scavenger hunt is a terrific way to bring the tech world into the real world. Wrap a present for your dad, then take a photo of it in a secret location. Upload it to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and include a series of hashtags that act as clues as to where the gift is. If he’s stumped, he can let you know via a comment, and then you can continue giving him hints through the comments section until he finds it. This would work especially well as a gift if you are not able to be together on Father’s Day.

Photo Painting

Do you have a favorite family photo? Use the Waterlogue app to turn it into a work of art that will not only live on your dad’s devices, but also in your home. In order to make a high quality print, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps. You could even take a photo on Father’s Day, and gift your dad with it later.

Finger Painting

For younger kids, there’s an app that will bring their finger painting to their father’s phone screen. You could also bring your masterpiece off the small screen by setting it as desktop wallpaper, or printing it out for the refrigerator door gallery.

If you want to give your dad a place to store your physical pieces of artwork, get the Keepy.me app for him — this will bring all of your growing collection right to his smartphone, where he can share his kids’ artistic genius with friends and colleagues.

The Classic Tie, With a Tech Twist

For a more traditional route, you can transform a tie into a wearable wallet, or even a wearable charging station or phone holder. All you need is a tie, a sewing kit (or machine) and some extra fabric. Rip the seams (carefully) on the back of the tie, and create a pocket that you can sew into the back. Make sure this is a bit larger than the size of your dad’s phone.

Enhance this gift: Drop a small portable charger in the pocket so your dad’s battery is always charged.

The Gift of Battery Life

Making a custom iPhone dock is easy. After you think of a theme, all you’ll need is a few materials and a USB cord. This project can be complex (here’s a tree branch dock) or very, very simple (make a clamshell box out of recycled materials).

Remember making macaroni necklaces? You can still do that, while bringing this classic DIY piece into the future. Why not make dad a macaroni keychain that will charge his devices in a pinch? To do this, use a USB cord (the newer ones will fit through ziti) as the string and a small portable charger as the pendant. You can use anything from a paperclip to string to a more sophisticated clasp to close it up and attach it to a key ring.

Plan a Trip

You can plan a Father’s Day adventure using the Tripomatic app, which allows you to create a daily itinerary, and will sync your plans across all of your (dad’s) devices, as well as to mobile apps. The app has great photos, and will help you plan your big day out with recommendations.

Bonus: Another great resource that can help you bring your gift to the next level is DIY(find the app here). They have plenty of hi-tech DIY ideas, and will even teach you how tomake them.

(Grethchen LeJeune-Whitaker; www.verizonwireless.com/news; 6/16/2015)

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