The idea of dogs using a special ball to video call their owners may sound crazy, but researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland recently decided to build such a device.
The “DogPhone” is made up of a small ball fitted with a sensor. As the dog moves the ball, the sensor initiates a video call through a nearby laptop. The owner can also call the dog, but the animal must move the ball to connect.
Research chief Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas said she was asked to create the DogPhone after realizing that there are plenty of devices that allow owners to check their pets on their own, but none not allowing animals to initiate interaction with their owners.
I have been making devices for my dog and many other dogs for quite some time now, Hirskyj-Douglas said in a video discuss the DogPhone. I think a lot of these devices are really important in giving dogs choices or options for doing things for enrichment purposes.
Hirskyj-Douglas tested the DogPhone with his 10-year-old Labrador, Zack. The testing period lasted for several weeks, with the ball being left out for Zack whenever she left the house.
Sure enough, Zack quickly moved the ball across the floor, causing the laptop to video call Hirskyj-Douglas.
It was very exciting to get calls from him early on, the researcher said.
But she added that towards the end of the testing period, she actually started to feel uncomfortable when Zack didn’t make a call.
It got a little more anxious for me towards the end because sometimes I wasn’t getting a video call or he was not calling me all day, and I was like, Oh, he usually calls me at that time.
As for Zack, it’s not clear if he ever realized that moving the ball would make its owner’s face appear on a laptop screen, or if the calls were just placed randomly every time he played. with the ball.
Hirskyj-Douglas appeared pleased with the results of the experiment, saying it demonstrates that we can really create very different technology for animals. Animals can be active users of technology, they can control the technology, we just really need to rethink our thinking about how we see the future of dog technology.
There are no plans to market the DogPhone, although we imagine that there are a lot of owners who rather like the idea of their pets calling them when they are outside, even if the conversation turns out to be a bit one-sided.
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