If you’ve ever wasted an afternoon (or all of 2020) looking at cute dog pictures online, then you already understand what inspired Ryder from the YouTube channel Ryder Calm Down to build an AI-powered machine that can recognize dogs walking past their home and automatically shout compliments to their owners.
The creation actually started as an automated way for Ryder to know when someone was walking a dog past their house because procrastinating by looking at real puppers is always better than procrastinating while looking at just pictures of puppers. Built around a Raspberry Pi, the device analyzes a live feed from the Raspberry Pi camera module and uses a machine learning model (in this case the YOLOv3 model), which was trained to recognize about 80 different objects, including people, cars, and dogs.
When a passing pup is recognized, an unsettling automated text-to-speech voice automatically alerts Ryder using an actual megaphone so that no matter what they’re doing, they can dash to the window in time to catch a glimpse. For those times when they’re not home to actually hear the alert, the machine can be modified with the megaphone pointing out the window to play a pre-recorded, “I like your dog!” message, giving a free dopamine boost to anyone choosing to walk their pup down Ryder’s street. It’s a random and slightly creepy act of kindness, but at this point I think we’d all take whatever we can get.