We all know that cats requires regular feeding, watering and the occasional trip to the vet, but few of us would know exactly how our cat’s health, weight, and hydration are faring on a day-to-day basis. And, when we do feed them, how do we even know that the food we put out for our feline friend is actually being eaten by them and not by someone else’s interloping pet? A group of cat lovers thought about all of these things and came up with Bistro, an automatic feeder that uses facial recognition technology to ensure the food is going to its intended recipient.
The creators claim that when a cat steps onto the Bistro platform and looks into the food area, an inbuilt camera is triggered and video is streamed to a server which then runs the feline-facial recognition algorithm. If the cat is recognized, food will be dispensed. If not, the food is withheld and the owner will be notified via the Bistro smartphone app that gives them the choice to create a new cat profile should they so desire. This function also allows the Bistro system to individually monitor and feed multiple cats in a household.
With weight sensors located under the feed and water receptacles, the Bistro device is claimed to be able to track a pet’s daily consumption levels. Sensors under the platform on which the cat stands also allow the cat’s weight to to be tracked over time. The designers further claim that the Bistro app allows you to check the history of your cat’s food and water intake or health report on demand from your phone. The app also permits the user to watch a live video stream of the cat eating if so desired.
The Bistro food hopper contains around 15 cups of dry food (wet food cannot be used in the device) and the water container holds around 38 oz (1.1 L). If either of these run low, the user is again notified via the Bistro app. According to the creators, two adult cats each weighing about 6 lb (2.7 kg) would have enough water to last them for around three days. There is no estimate on how long the food would last, as different cats have varying consumption rates.
Bistro's inventors also lay claim the device the world's first intelligent pet feeder that applies the "quantified cat" concept. That is, just as the idea of the Quantified Self (aka lifelogging) for humans uses technology to capture data on various aspects of a person's daily life, so too do the creators of Bistro claim their device does this for cats. As such, visiting a vet and being asked about a cat's diet, the Bistro app can show chapter-and-verse the most detailed diet and weight history.
Of course, there are a plethora of smart pet feeders out there, some of which are controlled by smartphones and other feeders that work with RFID tags, but the Bistro system is the very first that claims to be able to recognize individual cat faces and to monitor health and distribute food accordingly.
The Bistro app is in development for iOS and Android devices and the device is set for retail launch in February 2015 for around US$249 if everything goes to plan Early-bird specials are available before then on the Bistro Indiegogo page.
The design team details the Bistro in the Indiegogo pitch video below.