US engineer creates smart door to lock out killer cats


Though house cats might appear to be cute or incapable layabouts, some retain the hunting spirit and bring back gory trophies. — 123rf.com

Though house cats might appear to be cute or incapable layabouts, some retain the hunting spirit and bring back gory trophies. — 123rf.com

An Amazon engineer has invented a new gadget for home security: a pet door that locks out murderers. Specifically, this cat door keeps out felines that bring home gory hunting trophies.

Engineer Ben Hamm explained he had an issue with his cat Metric bringing in dead or half-dead animals every other week, a habit shared by four million of the United State's 74 million housecats.

“What I needed was something that didn't exist yet: a cat door that would lock selectively when my cat was bringing in prey,” he said, during a Ignite Seattle storytelling session.

His solution was to use an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled camera, his employer Amazon's DeepLens, and give it training to machine learn when Metric brought in a victim versus was coming home empty handed/pawed.

He labelled by hand over 23,000 images of his cat coming and leaving and fed the data to cloud machine learning platform Sagemaker.

With the sizeable sample size, the DeepLens AI-enabled camera was able to detect if the cat had prey in his mouth and if so would trigger the cat door to lock for 15 minutes.

The programme would also send Hamm a photo of the perpetrator and make a donation of  “blood money” to the National Audubon Society, which protects wild birds.