60-Second Tech

Feline Facial Recognition Overcomes Kitty Overconsumption

A multicat feeder system incorporates facial recognition so that owners can tell if individual cats are eating too much or too little. Larry Greenemeier reports


Facial recognition systems match a face, for example, at an airport or border crossing, with a photo and identity on file. Now Taiwan inventor Mu-Chi Sung thinks that this stealthy technology could also be used with other potentially uncooperative individuals—his cats.
Sung adapted facial recognition so it could be part of his Bistro smart cat feeder. Bistro features food and water dishes inside a clear plastic enclosure big enough for a cat to slip its head in. Sensors measure how much the cat consumes. Bistro’s target is multi-cat households, so a camera studies the cat’s face to determine which feline is feeding. Owners can thus know whether a fat cat is pigging out while less aggressive  housemates go hungry.   
Sung created an Indiegogo campaign to crowd-fund Bistro production, hoping to make them available starting next March.
Such identification systems could conceivably be developed for dog owners and field researchers studying wildlife.
Facial recognition usually creates privacy concerns, but a survey of cats found they do not care, especially if food is involved. And based on YouTube content, if feline privacy were an issue, the video site would cease to exist.
—Larry Greenemeier
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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