Is That A Cat Or Not?

Pandemic induced boredom takes people in many different ways. Some of us go for long walks, others learn to speak a new language, while yet more unleash their inner gaming streamer. [Niklas Fauth] has taken a break from his other projects by creating a very special project indeed. A cat detector! No longer shall you ponder whether or not the object or creature before you is a cat, now that existential question can be answered by a gadget.

This is more of a novelty project than one of special new tech, he’s taken what looks to be the shell from a cheap infra-red thermometer and put a Raspberry Pi Zero with camera and a small screen into it. This in turn runs Tensorflow with the COCO-SSD object identification model. The device has a trigger, and when it’s pressed to photograph an image it applies the model to detect whether the subject is a cat or not. The video posted to Twitter is below the break, and we can’t dispute its usefulness in the feline-spotting department.

[Niklas] has featured here more than once in the past. This is not his only pandemic project, either.

36 thoughts on “Is That A Cat Or Not?

  1. 🤦‍♂️ Im sorry but this seems like a waste of a good thermometer, a tool that’s a LOT more useful during a pandemic compared to this nonsense. And why is it starting to feel like most of the projects recently posted to HaD are purely made for getting some attention on social media? I really dont like this development…

    And before anybody asks, no im not great at parties, because there are none due to covid.

    1. Who said it started out as a working thermometer? Besides, any reasonable maker would have salvaged at least the sensor for some other project. (Or the thermometer was purchased specifically to use the sensor in a project.)

    2. 1. That is not a medical thermometer.
      2. Is there even a thermometer shortage? Do you really think that the problem right now is that we lack the thermometers to end the pandemic?
      3. For the most part, all hobby electronics are pointless. Would you prefer people post yet another “we emulated an old computer on a microncontroller” post? What is the HaD content that you deem worthy? It’s kinda always just been blog posts that people write about stuff they see on youtube.

      1. The temperature reading pandemic-related shortage that has impacted our household the most was the finding the plastic slipcovers for oral thermometers.
        I suggested to my wife that a small plastic bag could be substituted, but she didn’t like that idea.

  2. Several years ago, Wyze corporation introduced a $20 web cam that supports detection of HUMANS. This feature was based on software licensed from Xnor.ai. Wzye then got screwed because the contract with Xnor contained a ‘weasel clause’ which said that Xnor could cancel the license “at any moment without reason” — and this is precisely what happened when Xnor was purchased by Apple (the biggest weasel in the business.) So Apple basically broke the Wyze cam just to monopolize person detection technology.

    The point of my post is that this project is not just for fun: if you can detect cats for free, you can detect people for free. I also think detection of dogs would be more useful than cats: if I leave a project outside while it is being assembled or painted, the neighbor’s dog will come around and piss on it. So I need to be alerted with a text message when the dog is approaching. I would also like to build a decoy project which gives the dog a harmless shock when pissed on.

    1. Vaguely ‘membering a project a while back that was used on a cat flap to detect whether it should open for a cat, or whether it wasn’t a cat (Dog, racoon, bear cub etc)

      1. That was called “Flo Control”. The camera would look at a silhouette of the cat’s head profile and give a percentage of how closely the shape would match one of his cats’ profiles. So if it was a racoon, or even one of his cats carrying something in its mouth, it would fall below the threshold and not unlock the flap. The original website appears to be gone. Unfortunately he never published his source code.

  3. If this can work at a distance, I am very interested. There are a lot of cats that live near me and they all routineley crap all over my garden, driveway, patio, wherever they feel like.
    I started work on a RPi based cat detector years ago that would squirt cats with a stream of water on detection and attempt to follow them as they ran away to ensure they got wet.
    I didn’t get very far because back then, compiling OpenCV on a Pi was an extremely painful process that would take 9 hours and invariably would have failed when I came back to check it the next day.

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