RFID Pet Feeder
Wireless Whiskers® AutoDiet™ Feeder uses a proprietary version of RFID technology which is an acronym for Radio Frequency IDentification. In simple terms it can be thought of as a sort of barcode. However instead of a series of lines which are scanned by a laser, the RFID chip includes a series of electronic bits which can be scanned wirelessly using radio waves. RFID has many advantages over barcodes which must be aligned with the scanner; there are hundreds of billions of different codes allowing you to identify many more things. In addition RFID tags do not need batteries since they harvest energy from the radio signal of the reader/detector. So using RFID to identify individual pets is very convenient application of this technology. Identifying an individual pet is only the first step because once you know the identity of a pet it allows you to track and control its behavior in many sophisticated ways. For pet applications the most common alternatives are magnetic and infra-red (IR) and implanted technologies.
Wireless Whiskers® uses a small wireless tag that is attached to a pet’s collar. Each tag has a unique ID (over a hundred billion different codes). The tag is small about 1 inch in diameter and weighs only 0.2 ounces (5g). The tag is so light that it can be worn even by a kitten or puppy; it is waterproof, does not require batteries and comes in 4 different colors. The color does not affect the ID code as this is determined by the RFID chip inside the tag.
The tag is suitable for all cats and small dogs and pets do not even notice the tag. Some owners whose pets have never worn a collar believe that their pet cannot be trained to accept one. What they fail to realize is that pets are far better a training humans than vice-versa and pets are adept at trained the humans not to put a collar on them. Really all that is required is little patience and even in the most stubborn cases pets a collar in a few days. Collars are cheap so if you don’t believe it, buy one before using a wireless tag product. The subsequent addition of the tag to the collar will be unnoticed by the pet.
Some pet door sensors use a magnet attached to a pets collar as a means of sensing its presence. While this works over a very short distance, the main disadvantage is that the technology does not allow you to identify different pets since the magnets cannot be coded. Also magnets can become demagnetized under certain conditions.
Infra-Red (IR) Tags
Infra-red tags work similarly to your TV remote control. The IR tag periodically emits invisible IR light, which is detected and decoded by a sensor. The main disadvantage is that the IR signal is directional and the tags require batteries. The need to change batteries frequently makes them difficult to waterproof reliably. Also though it is theoretically possible to code individual tags this is rarely done and usually IR pet products cannot distinguish between different pets.
Implanted RFID chips
Veterinarians have long injected small RFID chips into the neck of pets. At first glance this seems like an ideal way to identify individual pets without them having to wear a collar. While implanted tags work well for identifying lost pets at a vet’s office, they are not very suitable for applications requiring prolonged or continuous reading of the implanted RFID chip. To read an implanted chip it is necessary to press a large antenna about 4-6 inches in diameter with high radiated power directly onto the neck of a pet in order to obtain enough sensitivity to detect the implanted chip. Detection occurs only when the pet is orientated just right, which is fine for a single detection.
A RFID pet door can to approximate these conditions by having the antenna around the perimeter of the door hole and since this application that needs infrequent detection, the delay while the pet fidgets to activate the reader is acceptable. However for applications that require instant response or continuous reading such as automatic pet feeders, it may take pets several weeks to learn to lean their neck against the antenna. Even then detection is patchy and not reliable and pets and owners frequently lose patience and become frustrated.
Wireless Whiskers® AutoDiet™ Feeder
The innovative feeder from Wireless Whiskers® uses wireless tags attached to each pet’s collar to identify each pet individually. The feeder does not dispense food; instead it measures what is taken out of the bowl by a specific pet. There are never any leftovers (that can be eaten by an unintended pet) as the bowl is covered by doors when an authorized pet is not eating. Since the feeder recognizes each pet it is simple to lock out specific pets or set up separate feeding stations for different food types. Each feeder allows you to individually control the diet or up to 8 pets. The feeder is suitable for all cats and dogs up to 18 inches tall (6 inches nose to collar).
Wireless Whiskers® eliminates the guesswork of setting your pets’ allowances by doing it for you – automatically! It works by measuring how much your pet eats during a 1-3 (selectable) calibration period. The AutoDiet™ Wizard the takes the average and sets that as your pet’s habitually allowance. No fussing with measuring cups and portion sizes or calculating calories. If your pet needs to lose weight simply use the Adjust AutoDiet™ feature to reduce their allowance in 10% increments. How easy is that! The smart feeder also has a lot of other features that help manage your pet’s diet. For example the Portion Control feature has 5 programs that spread the allowance over the day in up to 24 portions to prevent gorging. Any time your pet eats too fast, the doors close and the feeder displays “Sorry! No More Until Later”. You can also prevent feeding during the night hours and the feeder even alerts you if a pet is underfeeding, a common early warning sign of illness. For pets that need special prescription diets the feeder can be used to selectively feed specific food types to specific pets. Wireless Whiskers® is undoubted the most advanced pet feeder available today and solve most of the most difficult pet management problems elegantly.