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DogPhone Allows Pets to Video Call Their Owners

Researchers have created Dog Phone, a device that allows dogs left home alone to call their owners through a video call initiated by moving a sensor-equipped ball.

Dog Phone. Give a Pet a Phone

DogPhone. LONELY, pups may get on the dog and bone to ring their owners. Whether a silent stare or simply an overwhelming howl, dogs have found myriad ways to communicate with humans. Researchers have created a hi-tech option for dogs left home alone: a ball that allows them to call their owners on the old dog and bone.

The device – dubbed DogPhone – is a soft ball that, when moved, sends a signal to a laptop that initiates a video call and the sound of a phone ringing.

The owner can choose whether to answer the call and when to hang up, while they can also place a call to their pet, even if the dog has to move the ball to answer.

All this existing technology allows you to measure your pets‘ steps, call your pets, or remotely feed your dog. Still, your dog has no choice,” said Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas of the University of Glasgow, the first research author to create the device. She added that giving animals choice and control has improved their welfare and well-being.

DogPhone, barking or Brilliant? The invention allows pets to video call their owners.

A prototype called Dog Phone starts a video call on a screen of a ball fitted with a gadget to sense movement.

Its creator, Glasgow University’s Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, hopes it could help solve the separation anxiety of pets used to having people at home during COVID-19.

Zack makes call using ball with movement sensor.

The DogPhone considers both the owner and the dog and gives the latter a sense of agency, he said. “This is just a way to show that dogs can control technology,” Hirskyj-Douglas said. “We can build technology for dogs.”

While a canine social media, or FaceBark, has yet to be created, Hirskyj-Douglas said he foresees a future where dogs could call each other. “There are so many possibilities you could have,” he said.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Computer-Human Interaction and Being and presented at the 2021 ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces Conference in Łódź, Poland, how Hirskyj-Douglas and researchers at Aalto University in Finland set up a softball to create the device.

DogPhone. This new technology could benefit pets.

DogPhone. Give a dog a Phone
Zack with the DogPhone developed by his owner. Credit: Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas.

The DogPhone underwent a series of iterations to ensure it had the right level of motion sensitivity: these were tested for 16 days by Hirskyj-Douglas and his nine-year-old black Labrador, Zack.

A diary detailing the calls between owner and pet suggests that the latter did not always seem to know what he was doing despite being shown five times how the system worked.

The dog called me but wasn’t interested in our call; instead, he was checking things in his bed,” noted Hirskyj-Douglas during a test iteration.

Another entry reveals the potential pitfalls of the DogPhone. The dog walking around, wagging his tail and then lying down. I was in a meeting, so I had to hang up quickly,’ reveals one record.

The team says that many of the calls made by Zack – left alone for about eight hours during the test days – appear to have been accidents, although they warn that it could simply be the human perspective. “For example, when the dog activated the system with his butt, this may have been deliberate and the dog’s unique way of triggering an interaction,” they write.

Hirskyj-Douglas said the technology could benefit pets, particularly dogs struggling to be separated from their owners, although she admitted the device caused her some anxiety.

It’s just giving dogs a choice,” she said. “We might not understand the choice they are making. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a choice.”

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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