Feeding Dogs Over Twitch Is Latest E-Sport Craze

The modern social-networking fueled Internet loves two things more than anything: pets, and watching other people do stuff. There’s probably a scroll tucked behind a filing cabinet at Vint Cerf’s house that foretells anyone who can harness these two elements will gain control of the Internet Ready Player One style. If so, we’re thinking [Tyler Pearce] is well on his way to ascending the throne.

In an effort to make the Overwatch Twitch streams of his betrothed even more enticing, [Tyler] came up with a way for viewers to feed their dog Larry by dropping a command in the chat. There’s a surprisingly complex dance of software and hardware to make this reliable and visually appealing, but it’s worth it as showmanship is important in the brave new world of competitive e-sports. We’re assuming that’s what it says in the issue of ESPN Magazine with the Fortnite player on the cover, but nobody at Hackaday would qualify for a subscription to it so we don’t really know for sure.

A server running on the computer provides a slick administrative dashboard for the treat system, including a running log of who fed Larry and when. There’s also a number of checks in place to prevent too many treats being dispensed in a short time period, and to keep an individual from spamming the system.

On the hardware side, he’s using two NodeMCU ESP8266 microcontollers connected to a local MQTT broker: one to handle the lighting and one to run the 3D printed auger that actually pushes the food out. The printed auger is powered by a standard hobby servo, and even includes an IR sensor to automatically stop spinning when it detects a treat has been dispensed. [Tyler] reports the auger works quite well, though does have a tendency to jam up if overfilled.

We’ve seen all manner of automated pet feeders over the years, even ones with their own email accounts. So it was probably only a matter of time until they came to Twitch. If you can install Linux with it, why not use it to feed your dog? Or somebody else’s, as the case may be.

13 thoughts on “Feeding Dogs Over Twitch Is Latest E-Sport Craze

  1. I fail to get it.

    It’s a DOG. One of the most social creatures we humans “designed”. Yet … you use computers and remote controls to interact with it? Feeding a dog is one of the most intimate interactions you can have with that animal.

    Seriously: if you don’t have the time (being somewhere else or being gaming or whatever) to take walks with your dog AND FEED IT … then, please, DO NOT OWN A DOG.

    1. Regardless of agreeing or not…who do you think you are to talk how people should use their property?
      I thought this website was about doing things because you can, and want.
      It may even be that this is just for the fun…a hack, and he feeds it like you state should be done. If you do not like the way people do things here, well you can do what ever you want, including reading this reply or leave

      1. I agree with @Robert Mateja, a dog is not property. You may legally own a dog, but that doesn’t mean you can treat it however you want. I can throw my property across the room without consequence, but this is a sentient creature.

        There is something very messed up with a dog waiting to be fed by a machine for what it perceives as random. They are very social animals (thanks to thousands of years of selective breeding) and as such, have come to need social interactions (dogs can get depressed, sad and confused). You wouldn’t do this to a child either (which arguably have a similar emotional range at a young age).

        1. “I agree with @Robert Mateja, a dog is not property. You may legally own a dog, but that doesn’t mean you can treat it however you want.”

          while i agree with the both of you in spirit, when it comes to the law the opposite is true. Go have a talk with rescue agencies about it and listen to how hard it is for them to rescue some dogs. According to the *law* a dog is property and it is incredibly easy for people to get away with animal abuse because of it. I have seen people abuse their dogs, through over feeding, under feeding, chaining them to one location and not giving them any freedom time and unless the abuse is really egregious there is nothing that you or I or the LAW could do to take the animal away from them.

          That being said, there are people on the other end of the spectrum who treat their dogs like mini humans. That kind of treatment is also wrong and can cause all sorts of issues in training that can cause danger to not only the dog but humans around them.

          As for what i think, I think it is incredibly hard to write a law that considers the animals health as well as the risk that it can pose to the humans around it. Unfortunatly due to the wide range of precieved feelings (instead of objective facts) regarding dogs, it is almost impossible to come to a consensus on laws that would be seen as benifical to everyone. All you need to do is take a look ate all of the BSL laws that exist around the country to see the problems that we face with regards to animals in human care.

    2. You DO realize that this project was built to benefit the audience of the stream, and not the streamers themselves?

      Also, this machine isn’t going to be on 24/7, that’s asinine to consider. NOBODY said anything about this replacing any responsibilities the owner had. It’s just a fun way for the Twitch audience to interact with the stream.

      I’m pretty sure the owners are still going to “intimately” feed the dog

    3. This is clearly one of many ways they enrich the dogs life. There’s no reason this couldn’t be used by a handler to check in on their companion while at work or to train them not to get on counters or couches when a person isn’t in the room.
      There’s a difference between cautionary advice and fearmongering.

  2. Content creators with hustle know that moving from platform to platform to win the next viewer is just part of the game. As content creation evolves, the most popular platform is never on top for too long. And just as soon as you think you’ve mastered the latest trend, something new pops up, creating another channel you can use to reach your audience.

    While not new, Twitch has grown exponentially over the last few years. It’s primarily known for gaming streams, but it’s certainly not limited to this one category — you can stream presentations, tutorials, ceremonies, events, you name it classes.

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