Get This: Facial Recognition -- For Cats

It might be more useful than you think.

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By Emily Price • Aug 13, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Pet tech. Oh yes, it's happening. And anyone who loves their pets like family will want to check this out.

A new food dish uses facial recognition for perhaps the world's most important species: cats. Called Bistro, the high-tech feeder is designed for homes with multiple felines. When each furry friend approaches the bowl, it recognizes her face and keeps track of how much water and food she consumes while dining. It also weighs her and notifies you that she's eating.

Since the bowl knows which cat is consuming what, it can quickly identify when a cat's eating habits change. If Mr. Pickles, let's say, is eating all the food meant for himself and Lady Marmalade, you'll know right away and can make adjustments.

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Likewise, if the Lady is drinking twice as much water than normal, you'll know she might have an issue before she starts showing other symptoms of something like feline diabetes. If you're really curious what happens around lunchtime, you can also check in on your furry friends and watch them eat in real time from your smartphone.

We're not kidding:

Consumption habits are tracked over time and are available in graph form within Bistro's mobile app. So, when you take your furry companion to the vet, you can tell him exactly how much your cat has been eating and when.

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Bistro is the brainchild of Taiwanese inventor Mu-Chi Sung and was created after one of his own cats almost died from an undetected health problem. The owner of six cats, Sung didn't notice his cat Momo was ill until he found her paralyzed. A vet visit revealed she had congenital heart disease and pancreatitis, and likely hadn't been eating or drinking for days. Since there were five other cats snacking on the same food, he didn't realize that one was suffering. Bistro changes that, by tracking the eating and drinking habits of each cat individually.

It turns out quite a few people think facial recognition for cats might be a puurrfect idea (yeah, we went there). Sung is raising money for the first run of Bistro's on Indiegogo, and has already blown past his original $100,000 goal by more than $70,000. Pledging $179 gets you in on the crowdfunding campaign and will get your fur ball's paws one of the first Bistro units off the assembly line in March 2015.

If it's successful, we think there's a likely an opportunity for Bistro to expand beyond cats to the greater pet market. The bowl could be useful for multiple-pooch households, and could probably come in handy for other types of pets as well. Long-term we could also see it being used in farming and zoo-type situations where multiple animals are trying to enjoy dinner from the same dish.

Facial recognition for goats? Maybe one day.

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Emily Price

Technology Writer

Emily Price is a tech reporter based in San Francisco, Calif. She specializes in mobile technology, social media, apps, and startups. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, PC World, Macworld, CNN and Mashable.

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