Despite rising concerns over artificial intelligence, pet owners may have actually found a new best friend in AI for their best friend.
Cats are known to be proud predators who often show their affection and prowess through hunting, killing and bringing their prey back home.
While a lovely gesture, this primal feline habit often leaves bewildered pet owners with bloody messes or partial or fully live birds, rodents and bugs in their homes.
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A cat bringing a critter into the house. (Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson )
Why is RDIF not enough?
Many pet owners love their furry companions, but they also want to keep their homes clean and safe from unwanted visitors. That’s why some people install cat flaps or doors that allow their cats to go in and out as they please without having to open the main door every time.
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However, not all cat flaps or doors are created equal. Some of them use radio frequency identification (RDIF) technology to detect a microchip implanted in the cat’s collar or body and only open for the authorized pet. This way, other animals, such as stray cats, raccoons or squirrels, cannot enter the house through the cat flap or door.
As long as the cat trying to enter through the corresponding RDIF flap or door has the RDIF chip under its skin or attached to a collar, the flap or door simply receives the signal from that chip that it is a recognized pet and will allow the cat to come in with or without prey.
Cat using traditional RDIF-enabled cat door.
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An AI solution to prevent cats from bringing prey inside
What if your cat decides to bring home a dead mouse, a bird or even a live snake? How can you prevent your cat from turning your living room into a hunting ground? That’s where the new generation of smart cat flaps or doors comes in.
ZeroMouse to the rescue
A smart device called ZeroMouse, which exceeded its fundraising goal on Kickstarter, uses AI technology to detect whether your cat is trying to enter the house carrying prey. It consists of an RFID pet door or flap that is connected to a camera and a speaker.
The camera uses infrared light and night-vision technology to take a photo of your cat as it approaches the door or flap, day or night. The photo is then analyzed by an AI-based algorithm that determines whether your cat has prey in its mouth.
ZeroMouse ad. (ZeroMouse)
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If the cat has prey in its mouth, ZeroMouse emits an RDIF signal of an unrecognized cat, so the flap or door will remain closed until the prey is left behind. Owners can choose whether to be notified of these occurrences through the ZeroMouse app.
ZeroMouse smart device and app. (ZeroMouse)
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The smart device works with your existing pet door
Unlike other similar technology, ZeroMouse is a small device that attaches and works with most preexisting RDIF-enabled pet flaps or doors, which saves pet owners the expense and pain of a new installation.
ZeroMouse does require an external power source as it isn’t battery operated and requires Wi-Fi access as it constantly updates the AI-based algorithm with anonymous user data worldwide to improve its functionality.
The company tells us that it will begin selling ZeroMouse through online retailers in the first half of 2024.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
ZeroMouse clearly demonstrates how AI can improve a pet owner’s life by solving a common challenge. Not only is ZeroMouse constantly teaching its devices new ways to detect unwanted critters in the mouths of their pets, but it may actually teach an ‘old’ cat new tricks.
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