Entertain Your Cats Automatically With LazerPaw

An automatic laser turret playing with a cat.

Most of us would agree that kittens are very cute, but require lots of attention in return. What would you do if you adopted three abandoned cats but didn’t have all day to play with them? [Hoani Bryson] solved his problem by building LazerPaw — an autonomous, safe way to let your cats chase lasers.

Having recently tinkered with computer vision in the form of OpenCV, [Hoani] decided he would make a laser turret for his cats to play with. An infrared camera, used so that the LazerPaw works in the dark, is mounted to the laser and the Raspberry Pi. These electronics are then mounted on a servo-based pan/tilt module, which is in turn mounted with two smartphone clamps to the ceiling. That way, when the cats chase the laser, they will be looking away from the beam source. Additionally, if the device is aiming directly at a cat, the laser is turned off. Finally, [Hoani] added some NeoPixels with an Arduino-based controller for extra hacker vibes.

The LazerPaw’s software takes in a 30 FPS stream from a webcam, scales it down for performance, and applies a threshold filter to it. When a black pixel, which is assumed to be a cat, is detected, it “pushes” the camera away from it depending on how close to the laser it is. The effect of this is that every time a cat catches up to the laser, it moves away again. The processed images are also sent to an interactive website for remote cat playtime. Finally, there is also a physical start button so you don’t need WiFi to use it.

Is your cat more of a sunbather than a deadly murder beast? Maybe it’ll like this cat chair that follows the sun.

22 thoughts on “Entertain Your Cats Automatically With LazerPaw

  1. That’s really cool :)

    On a different note, why is it in all HaD posts with YouTube videos, if you click the “YouTube” in the bottom of the video you get a “www.youtube.com is blockedwww.youtube.com refused to connect.
    ERR_BLOCKED_BY_RESPONSE” message. Yet I can right click in the video and use “Copy Video URL” and paste it, and it works fine. I don’t run into this on any other site that embeds YT videos.

  2. I so hope they connect the physical start button to one of the talking buttons sold for pets, so the cats can fire it up themselves. It’s an impressive and wholesome build as is, but everything I look at I think “what’s next”

    1. What’s next? If it were me, I’d consider a treat dispenser. Play a while, then the laser targets the dispenser, which drops a treat, so the cat has a tangible goal. pointing the treat out with the laser to close made it a much less frustrating game for my boy.

  3. Impressive project indeed, but like so many cat toys, this is a purrfect “frustration generator”: you generate a lot of stimuli for the cat but zero reward, as every hunt ends with nothing at all in your paws. Not even a “Good cat!!” pat on the head! How better to frustrate your cat?? Please combine this with a dry food dispensing cannon or some such!

      1. It’s a REALLY bad idea to entertain your dog with a laser. Even a few moments can lead to obsessive compulsive behavior. It’s more prevalent in some breeds that others, but even so, any dog can get messed up. They’ll start chasing shadows, flashlights, anything where’s there’s a difference in light levels. Do some Googling about it, you’ll learn just how bad it can be. WIth cats, as long as you let them “catch” it, which basically means it touching their paws, and they’re satisfied.

        1. I had a dog that loved the dot.

          As long as I let him finish the chase by biting the laser out of my hands and ‘killing’ it he was happy. Then treat.
          Lasers were short lived.
          Never made him more OCD than any other pit^n^n^nterrier mix.
          Didn’t let him have it much.
          He loved dot similar to how he loved pizza, beer, leash and car rides. Normal for him. 1 thread brain.

          He did ruin it for the cats.
          I never set out to teach him to chase it.
          When he saw his cat (Chewtoy) going after it, he joined.
          Dogs smarter, he found source and bit that, first time.
          None of my other dogs could be arsed to notice.

          How is cat’s reaction to dot not also obsessive compulsive behavior?
          How is human male’s reaction to boobies also not obsessive compulsive behavior?

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