My independent study is going to be a continuation of my project for the embedded wearable technology in Ali Momeni’s Hybrid Instruments course.
I want to make my cat bowl smart enough to determine what cat is approaching it, whether it should let the cat eat, how much, and how many times through out the day. The bowl will relay information to me through a phone application. With the app I can see how many times each of my cats tried to eat today, what cat interrupted what cat from eating, how much the cats ate so far today, and I can control everything.
I found a few precedent examples of people who have thought about this, but I don’t think anybody did it as well as I will do it.
Gatefeeder is decently designed, the door is clever for not needing a servo and having the cat open the door. The inset depth of the door is presumably to prevent a second cat from pushing his head in and keeping the door open for himself to eat. I could consider a design that accomplishes similar results. Gatefeeder is doing a lot of what I want except that it doesn’t differentiate between cats and it is not intelligently learning about the cat’s behavior. Actually, there are no cat bowls that actually monitor the feeding. They only open and close.
This website shows some other examples of cat feeders, mainly SureFlap and Meow Space. Both use the idea of a cat-door to a confined space to allow certain cats in to eat. Again, these lack control over how much is eaten by different cats who have access to the same bowl.
The precedents are there and it’s reassuring to see that there are no data-interpreting bowls like I intend to make, but the bowls are similar enough to help me understand the best actuation methods. RFID was the right way to go, yay!
I have ordered online an RFID reader component and an antenna for it to allow a range of up to 3 feet. This way if one cat tries to sneak up on the one eating, the bowl will just shut down and they’ll have to give up on eating at the same time. I also got tags that should be perfect for the collar.