Cats are, as any cat owner could tell you, creatures of habit. Which makes them an obvious candidate for algorithmic monitoring. So enter Tailio a device that wants to turn your bog-standard cat litter box into something smart enough to keep tabs on your pet’s health, by adding Wi-Fi plus various sensors and linking the device to a notification app.
The Tailio device is actually a small stand which sits under your existing cat litter box where it can keep track of feline comings and goings to their toilet. Specifically it’s measuring the weight of the cat and the weight of their excretions, time spent in the box, time of day and how long it’s been between visits. The algorithm uses all these signals to distinguish one furry beast from another (if you own more than one) so one Tailio can track multiple cats.
Why on earth would you want to quantify your cat’s toilet habits? The U.S. based makers of Tailio reckon this is a sensible way to try to spot health problems early, by — for instance — flagging up weight loss, or alerting when a cat hasn’t peed in a while and thus might be suffering kidney issues.
While cats are curious creatures generally, they are pretty modest on matters of personal health, perhaps sitting quietly in a corner when they’re feeling off color. Which can make it hard to distinguish serious illness from standard somnolence. Hence getting an algorithmic helping hand is not the worst idea in the world, especially given it’s relatively unobtrusive. Obviously, though, the Tailio is not a replacement for giving a damn about your pet’s health yourself. It’s just providing another signal you can check.
The Tailio companion app will pro-actively alert the owner to changes in behavior, so when there may be cause for concern or when an early vet trip might be in order. The app will also include a symptom checker.
For now Tailio is a prototype. Its makers have just launched a Kickstarter campaign, and are aiming to raise $30,000 to ship the device to backers starting next April. The price starts at $99 for one Tailio to a limited number of early backers, stepping up to $149 or more.
In terms of how far along the team is on the development process, Tailio says its hardware is production-ready so it’s now a case of fine-tuning the user experience of the mobile iOS and Android apps, and “tweaking and improving the analytics”. The algorithm will apparently requires a learning period of three days to establish a unique “pawprint” for each cat.