Sharp Corp. said Monday it will begin selling a smart toilet for cats in Japan that can automatically measure urine data and the weight of the animal to keep track of its health, and alert its owners via smartphone if any abnormality is detected.
Marking the company's full-fledged entry into the Japanese pet market, Sharp's Pet Care Monitor is scheduled to go on sale July 30 carrying a price tag of 24,800 yen ($226) without tax. It utilizes artificial intelligence and Internet of Things technologies.
It is the company's first product exclusively for pets, to take advantage of the growing domestic pet market. Sharp aims for sales of 10 billion yen in its pet business in fiscal 2020.
Sharp is stepping up the new business as it is embarking on an offensive after years of restructuring led by its parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The company said it will consider tapping into the overseas pet market in the future.
"Pets are now considered as part of the family and IoT technology has been used little in the pet market," Yoshisuke Hasegawa, a senior executive managing officer, said at a news conference in Tokyo. "We joined the market with the aim of expanding our business and realizing a 'smart' life."
The advanced cat toilet traces cats' weight, the amount of urine, the number of times they urinate and the length of time it spends each time on the toilet. AI will analyze those data.
If there is any abnormality, such as a cat spending an unusually long time on the toilet or the quantity of urine is abnormally large or small, the owners will be alerted via an application called "Cocoro Pet" installed on their smartphones. A monthly fee of 324 yen will be charged.
If they keep more than one cat, a sensor for identifying each cat is available and can be used in combination with the smart toilet to keep tabs on the health of up to three cats.
Sharp said it plans to produce 2,500 units of the toilet a month. Customers can purchase the product on the company's website.
The popularity of cats is growing in Japan, partly due to the country's graying population as dogs require more effort to keep, such as walking them every day, which can be tiring for elderly people.
In December, the Japan Pet Food Association estimated the population of pet cats in the country at 9.52 million, surpassing that of pet dogs, at 8.92 million, for the first time since the start of its annual survey in 1994.