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Lassie Text Home: Pooches Get Technological

By New Scientist

December 8, 2014

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Projects are underway to enhance dogs' ability to interact with technology in new ways, in the hope "we'll be able to make them even better at their jobs," says North Carolina State University in Raleigh professor Alper Bozkurt. He is developing a smart harness that enables dogs dispatched into disaster zones to collect and transmit data, one of several examples of technologies designed to take the animal's experience into account.

Another research project involves the design of dog-friendly buttons that can be triggered by nose or paw contact, and which are colored in high-contrast blue and yellow to make them more perceptible to dogs. A prototype alarm by the same design team enables dogs to alert medical services if their owner goes into diabetic shock, because it is configured as a rope that triggers the alarm when pulled with the mouth.

Meanwhile, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are refining an interactive vest for service dogs as part of the Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations project. The vest is equipped with nine sensors based on dogs' ability to bite, tug, nose-tap, and grip objects with their mouths. Each sensor relays a distinctive message, and motors within the vest vibrate to communicate remote commands to the animal.

From New Scientist
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