While the world is still scared of billion dollar companies watching over us Big Brother style, some people are using surveillance technologies for fun little projects, and sometimes… cat related?
Arkaitz Garro is a front-end engineer for the company WeTransfer located in the Netherlands. After years of watching a cat wandering around his house, he decided to investigate whether or not that cat was a stray. After he and his wife slowly became acquainted and later on friends with the cat, they both learned that his name is Bobis, and he is in fact the neighbor's cat.
Garro then had the idea for a facial recognition device for the cat so he would know whenever Bobis was waiting at the window and wanted to come in, in which case Garro would be notified and could go and open the back door for him. The cat apparently had its own schedule and would come at specific times of the day, and that's when the device would come in handy.
The system is made from a Raspberry Pi running a motion detection software and a small camera. Whenever the camera senses movement, a picture is taken and sent through the Raspberry Pi to AWS Rekognition, an Amazon cloud-based image recognition platform. AWS Rekognition then compares the picture previously taken by the camera with other pictures of Bobis that are already uploaded to the server. If the pictures match, Garro receives a notification on Slack, a team collaboration tool, letting him know that there is—indeed—a cat at the window who wants to come in. According to Garro, his entire setup costs around $50 and took only a few hours to put together.
"It's almost one hundred percent reliable when the cat is looking at the camera."
The device seems a little DIY, but such a system is already up in the market by Microsoft and can be connected to a pet door using the same kind of facial recognition mechanics.