A new technology start-up is promising to use “cutting-edge cat facial recognition technology” to battle cat obesity in the US, using built-in scales and sensors to let felines know when they’ve had enough.
From the outside, the $250 Bistro looks like a particularly stylish automatic feeder for stay-at-home-cats: there’s a cat food hopper and a water reservoir connected to a pair of bowls which can be refilled throughout the day.
However, Taiwanese company 42Ark have also bundled in a range of sensors that turns the Bistro from a simple automatic feeder to a “health manager for the four-legged members of your family”.
A built-in camera at the front of the device uses “cat facial recognition technology” to ID each of the felines that drop in for a bite to eat, while weight sensors underneath both the animal and the bowl calculate exactly how much they have eaten.
This information is then transmitted via users’ home Wi-Fi to a connected smartphone app where owners can review their pet’s “diet history”, access a “health analysis report” and even take their photo or watch them eating their lunch in real time.
The facial recognition system can also be useful to make sure each member of a multi-cat household is getting the food they need. The Bistro’s creator, Mu-Chi Sung, came up with the idea after his pet cat Momo developed pancreatitis and stopped eating. Momo began wasting away and it wasn't until Sung began hand-feeding her that he realise his other pets kept eating Momo’s food.
Thankfully, Momo recovered but Sung hopes the Bistro will allow other anxious cat owners to keep a closer eye on their pets – a tactic that he think might help deal with the 50 million+ cats in the US that are thought to be overweight.
"With Bistro, we’re building a closer relationship between you and your cats, one that not only provides you with a more intelligent, complete and quantified view of their health, but also keeps them happier and healthier than you’ve ever been able to before," says 42Ark.
The Bistro is currently raising funds on Indiegogo.