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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2020: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2020: Really, an AI-powered litter box?

In the battle for consumer relevancy, developers are turning just about everything into a connected, smart device.

It's that time again. The best and brightest of the tech world are gathering for the annual bacchanal of engineering ingenuity and oneupmanship. Everyday items you never knew were dumb will be connected and made intelligent, and you'll be left to wonder how you ever lived in an analog world.

Also: More CES coverage at CNET

That point was driven home by my recent run in with a smart, self-cleaning litter box from iKuddle. The company, which develops pet-centric AI Internet of Things (AIoT) smart devices, is following up the litter box by announcing the launch of its AI-powered iKuddle Water Fountain and iKuddle Auto Feeder and is unveiling the first health and diet-monitoring AIoT ecosystem for pets.

That's right -- a Fitbit (of sorts) for felines.

The idea is that with few reliable options that offer a comprehensive solution for monitoring your pet's health on a day-to-day basis, iKuddle's AIoT ecosystem can offer a self-reliant system that intelligently monitors a cat's health and adjusts its food or water intake accordingly. The AIoT ecosystem also alerts owners to any drastic health changes that may need the attention of a veterinarian. 

It's part of a trend of at-home health monitoring that's already conquered the two-legged world and is now moving on to our four-pawed furry friends.

It works by collecting a variety of health-related data points on your pet through a suite of smart home pet products, including iKuddle's automatic pet Water Fountain and Auto Feeder, both launching at CES, along with the brand's flagship Internet-connected Auto-Pack Litter Box. The Auto-Pack Litter Box, which raised $1 million on Kickstarter and will be demonstrated at CES for the first time, was the first to introduce an end-to-end self-cleaning litter box from scooping up to bagging your cat's waste.

Following a model forged by companies like Apple and Google, the new business plan for smart devices companies is to prompt users to buy into a whole ecosystem of products. In this case, the networked products enable pet owners to glean insights about their pets' health. The system passively monitors and tracks your cat's bathroom breaks, for example, including frequency and will actively notify iKuddle's ecosystem products, including the iKuddle Water Fountain and iKuddle Auto Feeder to adjust the cat's intake according to species and target weight.

Garfield would have a fit, but the concept has a lot of appeal. iKuddle can recognize irregularities in your cat's lifestyle, whether it isn't eating or drinking enough, or the content of its waste may raise suspicions about its health. All this comes without requiring active management over the pet's day-to-day life, potentially freeing up time for busy cat owners.

Of course, none of this comes cheap. The iKuddle Auto-Pack Litter Box will retail for $399.99.