A woman created an artificially intelligent (AI) infrared camera rig using a Rasberry Pi to monitor her cat’s poop after she discovered it was eating plastic.
A vet advised software engineer Estefannie to monitor her rescue cat Teddy’s bathroom habits and make sure there was no plastic stuck in his intestines.
An Ingenious Plan
Estefannie wrote a python script and set up a camera with a motion sensor that would trigger every time Teddy used his litterbox so she could tell if he was constipated or not.
However, there was an issue. A second cat uses the litterbox making it difficult to tell whose poop is whose. That’s when Estefannie turned to AI.
“I did a lot of research and found I need to take a whole bunch of pictures. Luckily I already have a picture taking script that can take several pictures a second,” she explains on her YouTube channel.
The handy YouTuber created a new bathroom for Teddy, which led to a new problem, the camera could no longer see without a flash. Teddy did not like the flash so Estefanni set up a series of infrared lights and gave the camera an infrared filter so it could see in the dark.
“What’s really cool is that you can’t see the infrared lights to the naked eye but the camera can and cats cannot see infrared lights,” she adds.
After successfully installing the infrared rig, Estefanni took over 50,000 photos of Teddy and her other cat using the litterbox.
Estefannie then had to crop all the photos which were fed into a machine-learning script so the computer understands what Teddy looks like.
“This is when I realized that the computer doesn’t understand if Teddy is pooping or peeing,” she explains.
“Every picture comes with a timestamp so I was able to calculate exactly how long it takes them to poo or pee,” she adds.
After it was all set up, every time a photo is taken it is sent to a server which processes the image and sends back a prediciton to Estefanni’s computer. It tells her which cat is using the litterbox and if they are pooping or peeing. This complex arrangement allows Estefanni to save all of the data so she knows when Teddy is not pooping and if he needs to go to the veterinary hospital.
Estefanni says she spent a year on the remarkable project.
“Did I make an AI whose only purpose in life is to watch my cat poop? Yes.”