A man in Taiwan has developed a cat feeder that uses facial recognition to dispense pet food. Your cat will probably kill you for even reading an article about this.
Ha! That headline is so misleading, right? Because NOTHING CAN MAKE A CAT STOP BEING A JERK. According to Arielle Duhaime-Ross at The Verge, the Bistro is a device which promises a high-tech answer to feeding your cat. The Bistro uses facial recognition technology and dispenses certain amounts of food to a cat. The idea is not only to help make sure your cat isn't overeating, but to stop the jerkass from eating all your other cats' food. Developed by Mu-Chi, who founded 42ARK, the idea came out of a need to help one of his sick cats:
Sung first came up with the idea for this kibble dispenser — called the Bistro Smart cat feeder — after experiencing a scare with one of his pets, Momo. The white feline developed pancreatitis and subsequently stopped feeding, but Sung's other pets were eating her food, so he didn't notice right away. "I have been raising so many cats and some passed away, but usually we didn't notice that they were sick," Sung explains. "I should have noticed earlier, because it's often too late when they show serious symptoms."
Momo's brief but serious illness is what prompted Sung to think about integrating facial recognition technology in a kibble dispenser. But the Bistro smart cat feeder doesn't just hand out food to a specific animal: it also knows when to stop. By monitoring how much your cat has eaten and had to drink during each feeding session, the company says that the feeder can determine when your feline has had enough — or when it hasn't eaten at all. And users can set the food dispenser to only hand out small quantities of kibble at a time, so cats that tend to eat quickly and throw up are forced to pace themselves.
"If a human can recognize the facial differences [that distinguish one cat from another], than the machine can do it too," said Sung. "And the platform that the cat sits on is actually a scale, so it can recognize cats by weight" as well.
The video describes Bistro as a "health monitoring device." Because when you break the news to your cat that he's going to have to eat out of this thing, you don't want to make it sound like you think he's fat. That could turn out badly for you.
The look on the cat's face at about 0:35 pretty much says it all. "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? I DEMAND YOU FEED ME AT ONCE, ROBOT FOOD MACHINE."
Obligatory "this could be a viral hoax," for the record. But over at PC Magazine, Jill Duffy rounded up some other examples of cat facial recognition currently in use which aren't as fun as Bistro, but still—CAT FACIAL RECOGNITION.
KittyDar is a website that purports to detect cats' faces in any image. Throw an image into KittyDar, and it's supposed to tell you how many cats are in the picture and put a box around their faces. There are test images you can try right on the site itself, although one of them is of four cats, and KittyDar only finds two. Fail. I then tried six different images of cats, and KittyDar was only able to find a cat in one of them, proving that there could very well be great demand for better cat-facial recognition technology.
Another cat-detecting system I stumbled across is a mobile app called PiP, which stands for "positive identification of pet." You upload photos of your cat (or dog) to PiP and fill in some basic information, such as breed, age, size, and sex. Then you call upon PiP's services and user base if your cat (or dog) is ever lost. If your pet goes missing, you can activate a PiP alert that broadcasts to animal control and animal rescue agencies, as well as veterinarians, social media outlets, and other app subscribers within your local area. The alert also triggers PiP to watch social media sites for any posting of a found pet that could be yours.
The device also apparently includes a monitoring app for your smartphone, so you can watch them while you're away from home. (OH GOD, THIS SHOULD BE GOOD.) Now you can go all NSA and watch your cat lick its butthole and scratch your good furniture to shreds while you sit helplessly and watch.
Our Cat Overlords will not be pleased about this news. They will see it as a clear sign of defiance. The will assemble in the yards behind our homes or under the bed in the guest room you wish they would keep out of and they will plot their revenge for this. But I see this as a strong sign of progress. We have fired back. They no longer see us just as Opposable Thumbs Who Open Food Cans and Give the Scritches. We have the power to control their food, their nourishment. We can monitor their actions. We are a credible threat to their plans for domination. Be wary, though. Expect their attacks to step up. Be wary, but be steadfast.
Image via Shutterstock.