This site was previously an image recognition project and we're bringing in the past content of this website for information purposes. Quantum Picture develops advanced image recognition software based on the idea that any image is a collection of a finite number of discrete features (thus the name Quantum Picture). They were particularly interested in developing a Web search engine based on image content. Let's suppose the user submits a picture of a face. The engine has to find all the images on the Web containing this same face. They tested software which can deal with a simpler task of recognizing a cat's face, or rather a profile of the cat's head. They have built a working device which prevents a cat from bringing in animals from the street. They called it "The Flo Control Project".
This is Flo. Her job is testing our image recognition algorithms, although she might not be aware of this. She goes in and out of the house through a cat door (below).
She also has a habit of catching various animals, dragging them inside through the cat door, and letting them loose so they can be chased for hours. Very cruel. To put an end to this we have built a computer-controlled device that visually determines if Flo is carrying anything in her mouth when she enters, and if she does, it simply does not let her in. Below you see how it looks from inside:
This commercially available cat door (Cat Mate) already has an electromagnetic latch, normally activated by a small magnet that the cat wears around its neck. We rewired the circuit so that the latch is controlled instead by the little gray box to the left of the computer, which is connected to the serial port. But the really interesting stuff is on the other side of the door.
This is the view through the cat door. Below is the view with the big door open. It's a wooden box with the hole on the far end just wide enough for Flo (and not wide enough for raccoons). To the right of the hole there is the light, to the left - the mirror, and inside the yellow plastic (hopefully waterproof) box is the digital camera, Kodak DVC323, connected to the computer via the USB port.
The yellow box used to be a lantern, it has a glass window at the front. Through the mirror, the camera looks straight at the light.
This is what the camera sees normally.
And this is what it sees when Flo sticks her head in from the street. The image is captured as soon as the center of the picture becomes dark. At this point our software analyses the image to determine if Flo is carrying anything in her mouth.
This is how it looks if she does. The decision whether to unlatch the door has to be made within about a second - this is how long it typically takes Flo to reach the cat door from this position in front of the light.