Engineering 101

Getting a FaceTime Call From Your Dog

As the human-pet relationship continues to deepen, many tech devices have been developed to allow for remote connection. Humans can automate feedings and peek in to their pets’ day via camera. However, animals have no way of connecting to their humans.

That’s why a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland developed a technology that made it all possible.

Their paper explores the creation of a video call device that allows a dog to remotely call their human, giving the animal control over technology in their home. After building and prototyping a novel interaction method over several weeks and iterations, the team tested the system with a dog and a human. After analyzing their experience and data, they reflected on power relations, how to quantify an animal’s user experience and what interactive internet systems look like with animal users.

DogPhone is the result of a collaboration between Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, of the University of Glasgow, and her 10-year-old Labrador, Zack, along with colleagues from Aalto University in Finland. In this video, DogPhone allows Zack to call Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas by picking up and shaking a ball that is equipped with an accelerometer. When the accelerometer senses movement, it initiates a video call on a laptop in their living room, allowing Zack to see and interact with his owner whenever he chooses.

Zack’s owner can also use the system to call him, and he is free to answer or ignore the call. Dr Hirsky-Douglas is a specialist in animal-computer interaction at the University’s School of Computing Science, who researches new ways to enrich pets’ lives through technology.

Source: The University of Glasgow, changing the world since 1451.

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