Scientists have created a prototype DogPhone device that will allow dogs to call their owners.
The dog has to shake a ball containing an accelerometer, and once the device detects motion it will connect to a computer then videocall the owner on a screen that's connected to the device.
The new invention, is believed to be the first of its kind, and it's the brainchild of University of Glasgow’s Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, her 10-year-old Labrador, Zack, and colleagues from Aalto University in Finland.
The team behind the invention said the DogPhone could help pups get through their separation anxiety who have grown used to having their owners at home during the pandemic.
Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas, is a specialist in animal-computer interaction at the university’s School of Computing Science, said: “There are hundreds of internet-connected ‘smart toys’ on the market that dog owners can buy for their pets.
“However, the vast majority of them are built with the needs of dog owners in mind, allowing them to observe or interact with their pets while away from home.
“Very few of them seem to consider what dogs themselves might want, or how technology might benefit them as living beings with thoughts and feelings of their own.”
Zack’s interactions with the prototype DogPhone, is still undergoing more experiments, he is also the focus of a new research paper at the 2021 ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces Conference in Lodz, Poland.
In one trial, Zack called Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas by picking up and shaking a ball fitted with an accelerometer, which triggered a video call on a laptop in her living room.
“What I wanted to do with DogPhone was find a way to turn Zack from a ‘usee’ of technology, where he has no choice or control over how he interacts with devices, into a ‘user’, where he could make active decisions about when, where, and how he placed a call,” she said.
Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas said: “Of course, we can’t know for sure that Zack was aware of the causal link between picking up the ball and making a call, or even that some of the interactions which seemed accidental were actually unintended on his part.
“However, it’s clear that on some occasions he was definitely interested in what he was seeing, and that he displayed some of the same behaviors he shows when we are physically together.