April 14, 2014
Fourteen-year-old Brooke Martin's "iCPooch" invention lets people video chat with their pets
Brooke Martin’s golden retriever Kayla hated to be left alone in the house. She would whine, pace, and chew on things. Brooke learned that other people had the same problem with their pets. She decided to investigate a way to help pets feel more comfortable when the family was away.
Working with her father in their garage, the 14-year-old tinkered with several ideas. She asked professionals for advice and tried different designs and materials. Finally, she came up with a device that allowed pet owners to video chat with their pets! She calls the device iCPooch. “The dog doesn’t have to answer the call,” explains Brooke. “It comes up immediately on the screen on their end. It’s a two-way audio and video—you can see and hear each other.” Best of all, with a click of a button you can even send the dog a treat!
Paws of Approval
Brooke entered iCPooch in the 2013 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and was selected as one of the 10 finalists. Over the summer, she worked with a 3M scientist to improve her invention. “The main thing we focused on was how to make it dog-proof,” says Brooke.
With help from dogs at the Spokane Humane Society, Brooke tested different screen protectors. She taped the protectors to the floor at the shelter and let dogs walk on, scratch, lick—and even occasionally pee on them! “It was fun,” says Brooke, “and all the dogs I worked with ended up getting adopted.”
The True Test
The most important test was how it helped Kayla. “When my dad picks us up from school, we’ll pull over and call Kayla,” explains Brooke. “She’ll come over [to the device] so we can see her, talk to her, and deliver a treat. She’ll even lie down by it waiting for a treat when we’re home. She loves it!”