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With A.I., the Secret Life of Pets Is Not So Secret

  • April 08, 2020

While products like Petcube and Furbo are mostly used by dog owners, there are A.I. devices out there for cats as well. Many people track them throughout the day using interactive cameras, and one start-up has devised an intelligent laser for automated playtime.

Yuri Brigance came up with the idea about four years ago, after his divorce. He was away from the house, working up to 10 hours a day, and was worried about his two cats at home.

“This idea came up of using a camera to track animals, where their positions are in the room and moving the laser intelligently instead of randomly so that they have something more real to chase,” he said.

The result was Felik, a toy that can be scheduled via an app for certain playtimes and has features such as zone restriction, which designates areas in the home the laser can’t go, such as on furniture.

Mr. Brigance said his product did not store video in the cloud and required an internet connection to work, like many video products. It analyzes data in the device.

“We use machine-learning models to perform what’s called semantic segmentation, which is basically separating the background, the room and all the objects in it, from interesting objects, things that are moving, like cats or humans,” Mr. Brigance explained.

The device then determines where the cat has been and what it is currently doing, and predicts what it is about to do next, so it can create a playful game that mirrors chasing live prey.

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