Fri, Jul 18, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Taiwanese design team wants cats to eat ‘smartly’

Staff writer, with CNA

A cat feeder that uses facial recognition technology will allow cat owners to “smartly” monitor the appetite of their furry friends any time and anywhere, a Taiwanese design team said on Wednesday.

The device, called Bistro, has two major parts — a food dispenser and a scale, said Hannah Chen, a spokeswoman for 42Ark, which designed the device.

When a cat steps on a Bistro, a built-in camera is activated and streams video to a back-end server, which runs a facial recognition algorithm to identify the cat, Chen said.

As the cat is eating, weight sensors beneath the dispenser and the scale continuously monitor the weight of the cat, the food and water, she said. After the cat steps off, the system calculates the amounts of food and water the cat has consumed, as well as its weight, she added.

The information is then sent to the owner’s smartphone via an app so that they can easily review their cat or cats’ diet history and health, Chen said.

Users can decide how many meals they want their cats to eat per day and Bistro will automatically calculate and dispense the correct amount of food for each meal, she said.

The device, which is to be priced at about US$250, is not yet available on the market.

The company is trying to raise US$100,000 through crowdfunding on Indiegogo and said that if it can raise that amount within a month, the first shipment of Bistros will be delivered in February next year.

The team raised nearly US$32,000 within 12 hours of posting the campaign on Indiegogo’s Web site.

“We’re quite confident of reaching our goal within the time limit,” Chen said, adding that her team was surprised and happy to see so much interest from around the world in 42Ark’s first product.

Chen said 42Ark plans to work on other pet-related high-technology devices.

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