Since we first discovered that they were a cute and funny thing to have around the house, humans have yearned to understand what their cats are really thinking.
Temptations may have brought us one step closer to a world where that will be possible, after developing Catterbox, a wearable tech collar that can hear a cat’s miaows and translate them into human speech.
The device, developed by creative collective Acne, houses a microphone, speaker, Bluetooth and wifi connections, and connects to a smartphone app, which allows pet owners to choose their cat’s ‘voice’ from a range of options.
Catterbox is the first product idea to come out of The Temptations Lab, which the Mars Petcare brand described as a "research workstream dedicated to the future of fun times with your cat".
"We’re fascinated by cats, so we set out on a mission to get to know them better," said Temptations global brand director Pete Simmons.
"Through research, we learned that an adult cat’s meow is their way to communicate with humans and, by investing in this prototype device, we can start to improve understanding between them both – giving cats a voice for the very first time."
In reality, cats are small, furry mammals typically weighing 4-5kg, which usually receive free food from their human companions - but their behaviour suggests they continue to regard themselves as fearsome predators, making the inner workings of their minds notoriously difficult to discern.
"Cats are often perceived as quite hard to get to know, independent pets, so we set up The Temptations Lab to find innovative ways to inject even more fun into a cat and owner’s relationship," said Rick Brim, Adam & Eve/DDB executive creative director.
Catterbox launches today in New Zealand and the US as a prototype, to gauge public interest.
Earlier this year, Ocado-owned Fetch announced development of a 'WhatsYapp' motion-sensing device that aims to let dog owners know what their pet is thinking by analysing their sounds, movements and activity, and sending messages to the owner's phone.
But for dog owners, the wait for a talking canine best bud goes on.