“Cat Typing” – towards a possible remedy

Opportunities for Animal Computer Interactions (ACI) are, it seems, in ascendance :

“Take, for instance, the phenomenon where a cat walks on a keyboard when its owner is trying to work. This is called “cat typing”, and it results when the cat wants to be near the owner, and is attracted to the typing motions and sounds. Unfortunately, the owner is often forced to keep the cat at a distance to comfortably use the computer for work. By this fashion, people give priority to their own comforts. We believe that it is important for both people and pets to reinforce their symbiotic needs and comfortably live with one another.”

A new research project from Rina Sasaki and Yu Suzuki at Miyagi University, Japan, have, between them, developed CATouch! – an ACI system which aims to distract errant cats sufficiently that they don’t engage in typing.

A cat toy system that consists of an owner’s PC and an accompanying tablet for a cat. The CG animations, based on the owner’s PC operations, are displayed on the tablet. When the cat touches in the CG animations displayed on the LCD screen, the animations are generatively changed and a sounds are produced.”

They conducted a suite of experiments with 5 cats, the results of which indicated, at least to some degree, “a positive correlation between cat entertainment and having access to their own equipment” – to put that in context :

“Only Cat5, a 2-year-old female, was interested in CATouch! and played with the tablet. Other cats (i.e., mature/kitten, male/female) never played, regardless of age and sex.”

“As a result, the three phenomena clarified in this experiment are not facts but were identified as hypotheses.”

See: Sasaki R., Suzuki Y. (2018) An Interactive Cat Toy Interfacing Owner PC Operations. In: Kurosu M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction. Interaction Technologies. HCI 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10903. Springer, Cham.

A previous (full) version of the paper is available here in Japanese.

BONUS : Chris Niswander of Tucson, Arizona, who won the year 2000 Ig Nobel prize for Computer Science, is author and provider of the PawSense™ software suite, which not only detects when a cat is walking across your keyboard, but also makes a sound that annoys them: “This teaches your cat that getting on the keyboard is bad even if humans aren’t watching.”

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]