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Sharp to launch smart toilet for cats that can identify health problems

Kyodo

Sharp Corp. said Monday it will begin selling in Japan a smart toilet for cats that can automatically measure urine data and the weight of the animal to keep track of its health, alerting its owner 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 with a price tag of ¥24,800 ($226) before tax. It uses artificial intelligence and “internet of things” technologies.

It is the company’s first product exclusively for pets and seeks to take advantage of the growing domestic pet market. Sharp aims for sales of ¥10 billion from its pet business in fiscal 2020.

Sharp is stepping up efforts with the business as it embarks on an offensive after years of restructuring led by parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan. 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, urine volume and frequency, and length of time spent on the toilet. AI will then analyze that data.

If there is any abnormality, such as a cat spending an unusually long time on the toilet or the quantity of urine being abnormally large or small, the owner will be alerted via an application called Cocoro Pet installed on their smartphone. A monthly fee of ¥324 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, including daily walks that can be tiring for elderly people.

In December, the Japan Pet Food Association estimated the population of pet cats in the country to be 9.52 million, surpassing that of pet dogs at 8.92 million, for the first time since the annual survey began in 1994.