Wednesday 28 July 2021

Your phone will tell you when your cat is content or in pain

It's in development but a cell phone app which has been created using artificial intelligence can read your domestic cat companion's facial expression to tell you whether she is happy or sad, content or in distress and in pain. The technology is based on studies, recently conducted, which concluded that the various elements of a cat's face change position relative to each other when they are in pain just like the human's; although for domestic cats the changes are quite subtle as we well know. Cats tend to hide their pain and they tend to hide themselves when in pain.

Your phone will tell you whether your cat is happy or sad
 Your phone will tell you whether your cat is happy or sad. Image: The Times. Sorry for stealing it.

But the beauty of this application for cell phones is that cat guardians who are uncertain about how their cat is feeling can photograph their cat full-face (a bit like a passport photo) and then ask the software to analyse the image.

The software has been programmed with thousands of images of cats and AI used those images to work out their feelings. Software can then produce a readout for the owner.

The image on this page shows you some of the facial expression differences between a happy and a sad domestic cat. I think perhaps the better description of the difference is between a contented cat and a cat in distress or in pain. 

You'll find that a cat's face tightens up when they are in pain and their eyes become more squinty. In short, their face becomes more tense which actually is what happens to people as well. Although the domestic cat's ears become flattened and rotated outwards compared to in the alert position facing forwards and direct.

You can download a beta version of it using a desktop computer as I understand it by going to the website: Sylvester.AI 

You might like to click on that link to see where it takes you. It is said that the accuracy is as high as 97% provided you give the software a decent quality front-on image of the cat's full face. I think there will be some failures because some cats are camera shy and, in any case, it can be difficult to provide a high-quality image of a cat.

I think what I might do is write another post about how to achieve that. It does take some skill. The app has been developed by an animal health company in Canada. It is a collaboration between an AI company and a cluster of other companies involved in sectors ranging from animal health to sleep gadgets.

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