Flo Control, a cat imaging-and-access project.
March 25, 2002 1:50 PM   Subscribe

The Flo Control Project is a test project for image recognition algorithms developed by Quantum Picture. Basically, they rigged a home computer to control their cat door using image recognition software so that it would only allow cats to enter the house (and not skunks or raccoons), and then only if the cat wasn't carrying prey items (to play with in the comfort of the living room). The newest version of the experiment can differentiate between the two cats currently living in the house. Interesting stuff, not least because many people couldn't tell two cats apart simply by looking at their profiles. I suspect there are some wide-ranging non-feline applications as well.
posted by biscotti (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As you can see, I have a huge interest in this being not only real, but also put into production. Cats make a very special meow in the morning when they bring you breakfast in bed; one that is not conducive to creating a happy morning fun-time.
posted by machaus at 2:04 PM on March 25, 2002

Calls to mind that Far Side with the old lady who has nailed her dog door shut, and is standing by the window yelling "Fifi! Fifi! Come in!".

My cat, being about as coordinated as me, can knock himself silly on simple objects such as table legs. I don't want to imagine the damage he could do running at an immovable pet flap.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:07 PM on March 25, 2002

Well, I am not going to post information about how domestic and feral cats are living hell on small creatures and the wildlife that depends on them. Last time I did that, I got my head bit off by "cat lovers" who took offense. Guess they can't deal with reality.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:00 PM on March 25, 2002

Ok, i will...

"Despite the difficulties in showing the effect most predators have on their prey, cats are known to have serious impacts on small mammals and birds. Worldwide, cats may have been involved in the extinction of more bird species than any other cause, except habitat destruction."
"Most domesticated cats gobble endless bags of cat chow. But they also like dining outdoors where their meals comprise 70 percent small mammals, 20 percent birds, and 10 percent assorted live bait. "

"Cats cause the deaths of more songbirds than any other animal. ...an outdoor cat can kill up to 1,000 animal per year."

" The combined total of pets and free-ranging cats in the U.S. is probably more than 100 million."

"...rural free-ranging domestic cats in Wisconsin may be killing between 8 and 217 million birds each year. The most reasonable estimates indicate that 39 million birds are killed in the state each year. Nationwide, rural cats probably kill over a billion small mammals and hundreds of millions of birds each year. Urban and suburban cats add to this toll."

posted by benh57 at 4:06 PM on March 25, 2002

If it makes you feel any better, my cat doesn't go outside. I'm sure he's bollocking up the food chain in my apartment though.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2002

"the damage he could do running at an immovable pet flap"

Heh. Our catdoor has a tendency to jam. Cats are slow learners, aren't they?
The thing that intrigued me about this... the hit rate of skunks trying to enter this man's home. Is it a rubbish tip in there? Or are skunks just invasive critters? I wish I'd had something like this when living in out the bush (NZ). We had way over-confident possums.
posted by Catch at 4:19 PM on March 25, 2002

benh57: did you rip that quote straight outta /.?
Sounds familiar.
posted by Catch at 4:22 PM on March 25, 2002

Finally! No more chasing lizards all over the house after the cat brings them alive and totally panicked. These guys are brilliant.
posted by homunculus at 4:25 PM on March 25, 2002

I want them to adapt this technology to my mailbox. If the scanner determines that the postman is attempting to insert monthly bills or junk mail it simply refuses to open up.

This, I would pay for.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:36 PM on March 25, 2002

Agreed, benh57, that's why my cat's indoors only. (He's not too impressed, let me tell you.) The problem is even worse in Australia where our small mammals were never equipped to deal with a predator as efficient as a cat.

The thing with this image recognition technology, as cool as it is, the cat still kills things, it just doesn't inflict them on you.
posted by Jubey at 4:39 PM on March 25, 2002

LoL. Thanks, BenH. That's precisely it. Glad to see someone was paying attention. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on March 25, 2002

Guess they can't deal with reality.

I can deal with reality, I just can't deal with the concept of the dogs and cats we rescued having perished. Should I have let them starve? Or merely let them breed unsustainable litters? Sweeping indictments don't win many friends.
posted by machaus at 5:03 PM on March 25, 2002

I'm also of the opinion that domestic cats should live indoors, both for the safety of wildlife and for the safety of the cat (after a couple of recent cases here in Toronto where pet cats were tortured to death, it's not just cars and dogs and various varmints that pose a danger to your cat). I just thought this idea was really cool, and the technology is pretty amazing.
posted by biscotti at 5:17 PM on March 25, 2002

Nationwide, rural cats probably kill over a billion small mammals and hundreds of millions of birds each year. Urban and suburban cats add to this toll.

why is this a bad thing? predators have a role too, y'know.
posted by signal at 5:29 PM on March 25, 2002

signal: it's a bad thing where some of those small bird/animal populations are endangered. Where I live (New Zealand) all the predators I can think of, except the odd hawky thing, have been introduced. So there isn't a "role" for them as such. Cats have been banned in some areas.
I'd ask why it 's a bad thing if we're just talking about rats n' moles n' sparrows, but I'm afraid that would play into FFF's scheme to 0wn this thread :P
posted by Catch at 6:28 PM on March 25, 2002

And now a song, in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday.
Here comes PETA Cottontail, trollin' down the bunny trail, hippity-hoppity flamewar's on its way...
posted by darukaru at 7:15 PM on March 25, 2002

Hey, blame BenH! He's the one that did the nasty deed!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:32 PM on March 25, 2002

biscotti: Thank you! I found this site once and then ham-handedly lost it. I would *love* a cat-flap that let the cats in and out but closed up solidly whenever a raccoon or a possum tried to get in. Raccoons are the damndest messiest most destructive pests I've ever known. (And raccoon kits are so gawdawful cute they beat cliche kitty all to hell.) I don't even want to talk about the time a raccoon came in and bit me all to hell so I had to have rabies shots....

Okay, I do want to talk about it.

There's so much scare-stuff about rabies shots that every time I've told my story about being bitten by the raccoon and going for rabies shots, I've had people tell me they let animal bites swell their hands up to the point of blood poisoning because they were so afraid of rabies shots they wouldn't tell their parents they'd been bitten.

Pay attention, folks: Rabies shots are now a sequence of five. You get them in your shoulder and they're no worse than any other shot, except that they'll make you crash the rest of the day. (Or they made me crash for the rest of the day and, for all I know, that was just because I'd been so freaked all my life by the mythology of rabies shots.)

The tetanus shot you get for an animal bite is more important. The antibiotics you get for a puncture wound are VASTLY more important.

Please tell every kid you know that the rabies shots are no big deal these days---lest they die from the blood poisoning of a puncture wound because they're so scared of rabies shots they don't tell.
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:09 PM on March 25, 2002

> Cats make a very special meow in the morning when
> they bring you breakfast in bed

I was just thinking about our own cat's mouse announcements. Maybe a voice system could pick out cats carrying wee beasties.
posted by pracowity at 5:52 AM on March 26, 2002

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