All dogs are, of course, good boys and girls. According to Spots.com, about 67 percent of American households have a pet, which is a dramatic increase from 56 percent in 1988. Millennials are the most pet-friendly generation, with a whopping 73 percent of them owning a pet. Dogs are the most popular pets by far, and one of the few positive aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is that those dogs have been getting a lot more attention from their owners. That includes plenty of walks around the neighborhood, so YouTuber Ryder Calm Down built this AI device that detects passing dogs and yells compliments at them.
Artificial intelligence comes in many forms, but we are still only capable of creating “narrow AI.” That means that an AI is only capable of performing the dedicated tasks that it was trained for and can’t teach itself new topics without human direction. Machine learning is one of the most common forms today and it is particularly good at object recognition. A properly trained machine learning model can recognize everything from a hot dog to a cat, which is useful for a wide range of applications. For example, object recognition can be used to count only the number of semi-trucks that cross a bridge while ignoring the other vehicles. In this case, Ryder is using object recognition for a similar task: to detect the dogs walking by his house.
The machine learning model that Ryder used for this project is YOLO (You Only Look Once). Specifically, he is using YOLOv3, which is pre-trained to recognize and detect a wide range of objects and particular animals. It can, for instance, differentiate between a dog and a cat. YOLOv3 is running on a Raspberry Pi single-board computer and looks at the street outside Ryder’s home through a Raspberry Pi camera. When it sees a dog, it then queues up an audio file of Ryder yelling “I like your dog!” That is played through a megaphone that faces the street. This is, frankly, a bit startling to passersby who just hear a disembodied voice screaming at them. But we’re sure that the doggos appreciate the attention and compliments.