The Drawing Board: Feeding the Cats

Here at Cooper, we find that looking at the world from the perspective of people and their goals causes us to notice a lot of bad interactions in our daily lives. We can’t help but pick up a whiteboard marker to scribble out a better idea. We put together “The Drawing Board“, a series of narrated sideshows, to showcase some of this thinking.

The best-rated automatic cat feeder on Amazon has some serious interaction design problems, risking both well-fed cats and confident owners. In this Drawing Board, Cooper designers turn their attentions to the machines that take care of our four-footed friends.


Credits: Chris Noessel and Stefan Klocek.

8 Comments

Richard Mateosian
Those knobs might be an invitation to a clever (or just playful) cat to change the feeding schedule.
Thomas
Yes, what about the use case of "super intelligent cats?" I can't believe you overlooked that one, guys.
Roy Neal
Good improvements.
I'd also explore relocating the controls to a place that's more convenient for bipedal humans to reach, like the top of the unit.

It would also be helpful if it told you not only when food was dispensed, but when the weight has depreciated to some point. That way, you'd know if the cats (or something else) were actually eating what was put out.

Chris Noessel
@Roy: Getting electronics to the top seemed to be a challenge from the electronics point of view, and functionally could get in the way of putting new food in the hopper. Though an even more deluxe-deluxe edition could use wireless and let you do the whole thing from a panel on the wall. @Richard, Thomas: I understand "Charles" cats aren't anywhere near super intelligent, so I think we're good there. :)
Chris Noessel
Erm...I realize there's not much sense in the sentence "Getting electronics to the top seemed to be a challenge from the electronics point of view" so what I meant to ttpe was "Getting electronics to the top seemed to be a challenge from the circuitry point of view"
Christian Baptiste
[quote]but when the weight has depreciated to some point. That way, you'd know if the cats (or something else) were actually eating what was put out. [/quote] I think that would make the unit much more valuable. What about water and the cat box, It seems like you would want something to regulate those as well. They have those cat boxes that do hand free cleaning of the cat box, you could automate all this. Great for traveler and for lazy people! Oh yeah, don't forget the webcam colar to see what those trouble makers are up to when they are not sleeping. You could make the web cam activate with motion, then remotely send the video and all the other automated information to your phone.
Christian Baptiste
Oh were we supposed to be commenting on the idea of white boarding the idea,,, yeah that is cool too. The white board/story board becomes a very effective communication tool... see all the great ideas that we came up with after watching the video.
Dan Weinreb
I just ran across the video about this in Vimeo. Your suggestions are all great. But have you looked into how much the consumer retail price of the feeder would be increased if those nifty user-interface devices were added? You'd have to talk to the production engineers, probably in the Far East, who would tell you the horrifying news. This is why so many products are badly designed: UI hardware costs a lot, whereas ridiculously complex software costs very little. Sad but true.

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