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Mousr is the first robotic cat toy that can see and react to a cat’s movements just like real prey. Think Pinky with a brain.
Mousr is the first robotic cat toy that can see and react to a cat’s movements just like real prey. Think Pinky with a brain.
914 backers pledged $116,965 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Mousr: The robotic mouse that plays with your cat project video thumbnail
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$116,965

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Archeologists suggest that cats were first domesticated by farmers to hunt the little critters that ruined their crops. Keeping cats as pets indoors is only a recent trend. As such, domestic cats have maintained their natural hunting instincts but lack a proper outlet to express them. In the wild, cats hunt up to 20 times a day. While being kept indoors is very beneficial to cat health and safety in a number of ways, not being able to express their natural hunting instincts has been shown to contribute to a number of negative behavioral habits.

With his ability to sense and react to your cat, Mousr is the only toy capable of truly reproducing the hunting experience for indoor cats.

Without a doubt, Mousr is the most technologically advanced cat toy ever to exist. We’ve been called crazy, and maybe we are, but personally we think cats are worth it. After all, cats are people, too.

We really wanted Mousr to be as small and fast as possible, but we also wanted him to have personality. We have been working with several designers and engineers with a lot of experience in order to ensure Mousr’s industrial design will be able to handle all our physical and technological requirements while remaining sleek and cute. 

Over the last 4 months we have been rapidly iterating on the hardware design in Shenzhen, China. Being in China allowed us to evaluate a dozen different possible solutions faster than we could have anywhere else. We also worked with many talented people to help us push Mousr's technology to its limits. We believe we have the best possible platform that will enable Mousr to do all the cool things we envision for him. Now we have to finalize the hardware design and source the exact components that will be used in the final production version. You know, stuff like “should we use this LED or this LED?”

The look and feel of Mousr is nearly complete. Issues such as how to attach the tail and where to mount the sensors have been worked out. As Mousr's hardware design iterates into its final form, we will continue to tweak his appearance until it's just right.

The tail accesories are a work in progress (you can help - see the rewards!). Our goal thus far was to build custom tails that our cats love to chase. We would love to hear your input on what materials your cat loves best and how they can be incorporated into Mousr's tail.

We’ve spent the majority of our time in China learning about the stuff we didn’t know (i.e. rapid prototyping and design). Now we’re ready to move on to the stuff we know best - algorithm development. So far we’ve worked with sensor data to ensure we can detect things like nearby motion or external forces on Mousr (e.g. a cat’s paw). On an early prototype with commercial IR sensors, we were able to successfully get Mousr to react to, dodge, and entice our cats to play. With the addition of our 360 degree vision system, we opened the door to making Mousr a full-on artificially intelligent mouse.

To give Mousr the kind of intelligence he needs to be able to outsmart a cat requires in-depth knowledge of signal processing and artificial intelligence. The nuances of his intelligence using his unique vision system haven't been implemented yet, but our team’s 14 years of combined graduate level experience in digital signal processing, non-stationary signal analysis, adaptive filters, biologically inspired signal processing, low-power systems, and 3D audio localization make us the best team for giving Mousr the intelligence he needs to truly challenge your cat.

We have a version of the app that is able to remote control Mousr, and we have discovered some interesting control methods that work well to engage cats. We will continue to discover what kinds of movements work effectively with cats in order to improve the app's functionality. The app's graphical design hasn't been developed yet.

Mousr is being developed by a Ph.D. and two Ph.D. candidates from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Electrical Engineering who all own cats. We've been building cat toys and cat furniture for years in an effort to understand our furry friends better.

In particular, we became obsessed over figuring out what games and toys cats loved to play with. After observing how excited cats would get playing with us, and how bored they were with their automatic toys, we decided to build a better solution. As engineers, the solution was clear - robots.

Find Noel's other great design work at http://designhub.ie 

Duncan is the new managing director at HAXLR8R, and he is amazing

Contact Rong for your design needs at rou819 [at] hotmail [dot] com

Go watch Steve's other videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/supersteeb1

Check out Amanda's awesome lamp, Clyde, at www.fabule.com

Don’t assume any meaning to the order here. It’s impossible to quantify or rank the kind of help we’ve received from each of these people (and many more, surely!).

Sean O’Sullivan 

Cyril Ebersweiler

Ben Joffe

Peter Wang

Atommann

Nick Starno

Qiyu Wu

Sally Wang

Antony Bui

Bassam Jalgha 

Lauren Morenz 

Eduardo Torrealba 

Joel D’Urso 

Anthony Christodoulou 

Doug Jones and the Bones Jones lab 

Aaron Jones 

Tim Skov 

The entire HAXLR8R family and all the companies here in class 5 that helped us pull through: Clarity, Form, KATIA, Keyi, Linkitz, Opentrons, Prynt, Robo, Voltera.

(1) O'Connor, T. P. “Wild or domestic? Biometric variation in the cat Felis silvestris Schreber.” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 17.6 (2007): 581-595.

(2) R.A. Mugford, C.J. Thorne Comparative studies of meal patterns in pet and laboratory housed dogs and cats R.S. Anderson (Ed.), Nutrition of the Dog and Cat, Pergamon Press, Oxford (1980), pp. 3–14

(3) Rochlitz, Irene, ed. The welfare of cats. Vol. 3. Cambridge,, UK: Springer, 2005. pp. 187, 196.

(4) Ellis, Sarah LH, et al. "AAFP and ISFM feline environmental needs guidelines."Journal of feline medicine and surgery 15.3 (2013): 219-230.

(5) The artists that created the music we used in our video:

(6) Cat video 1

(7) Cat video 2

(8) Cat video 3

Risks and challenges

The primary challenge we face is writing the artificial intelligence algorithms. Creating robotics algorithms that work well in the real world is difficult because of complex and changing environments. Developing algorithms on a memory and speed limited microcontroller is even harder. The project has the risk of not achieving the dynamic intelligence we believe we can program into Mousr, resulting in slower reaction times or poor sensitivity at far distances. However, these are the kinds of challenges the team has studied and overcome in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as overviewed earlier. Additionally, we plan to make the firmware updatable through Bluetooth, allowing us to fix bugs and update algorithms even after shipment of the final hardware.

There are several risks associated with manufacturing hardware that could delay the project. Some of the tasks we have to complete include creating tooling, making a test jig to ensure every Mousr off the line meets specifications, interfacing with foreign factories, handling the logistics of international shipping, and ensuring Mousr has all the proper certifications. We are going to run into challenges and setbacks throughout the process, but we're committed to ensuring an on time delivery, remaining transparent, and keeping everyone up to date with what's going on. Additionally, our large network of friends and mentors with decades of experience in manufacturing substantially reduces the manufacturing risks. Our primary mentors, the HAXLR8R team, have helped over 50 companies successfully manufacture hardware products.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    CAT FOOD: Buy our cats a bag of food so we can keep working. We'll give you a shout out on the website, keep you in the loop about progress, and give you access to backer-only content, including behind the scenes updates on our journey through the manufacturing process.

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    SUIT UP: Get your choice of one of our 3 professionally designed t-shirts (scroll to the bottom of our page to see them).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    EARLIER CAT GETS THE EARLY BIRD: Let your cat be one of the very first to enjoy hunting Mousr, and at an awesome price!

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    EARLY CAT GETS THE ON-TIME BIRD: You weren’t the first one here, but you’re still pretty early so you can also have Mousr for a discount!

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    MOUSR FOR A CAT IN NEED: We'll give a Mousr to a shelter of your choice for less fortunate cats to play with. You're a real cat lover... and we love that.

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    Pledge $140 or more About $140

    ALL CATS DESERVE A BIRD: Or they all deserve a Mousr, anyway. We can’t afford to give everyone a huge discount, but we can still get you one for under retail price!

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    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    HUNT IN STYLE: Get a Mousr + your choice of one of our 3 t-shirt designs!

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    Pledge $260 or more About $260

    CARNIVORE: Got two cats? Got a friend with a cat? Why not get two Mousrs? There’s no reason not to!

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    Pledge $260 or more About $260

    CAT WITH A HEART: At this level we'll give you a Mousr for your cat, but we'll also give a Mousr to a shelter of your choice for less fortunate cats to enjoy. We'll also think you're a real sweetheart.

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    BETA TESTER: Help us make sure your cat won’t stop playing with Mousr. We’ll ship you a prototype for you to use with your cat, then work closely with you to find out which of our algorithms work best with your cat. We’ll feature your cat’s name, picture, and bio on our website and list them as a major contributor in Mousr’s user manual. Plus, of course, you get the real thing once it’s released.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    BETA TESTER + INVENTOR: This is everything that comes with being a beta tester, plus we’ll let you help us design a tail accessory after your cat’s favorite toy. We’ll even name the tail after your cat (as long as your cat has a family-friendly name, of course).

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    MOUSR ARMY: Get 10 Mousrs! Why you ask? We don’t know! Because it’d be funny? Because you own a cat shelter? Maybe you own a small store? We wouldn’t have been able to live with ourselves if we didn’t at least make the option available to you.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    BELIEBER: Boy, you must really belieb in us! Obviously we’ll give you a Mousr and all 3 shirts. BUT ALSO we’ll make a really really bad music video of us singing a Justin Bieber love song of your choice to your cat. Or you. Or both. We take (reasonable) requests. Belieb us, you’ll get your money’s worth.

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Funding period

- (30 days)