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Hi-Tech Harness Lets Owners Communicate With Canine Companions

By Daily Mail

July 8, 2015

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A new dog harness outfitted with sensors and a computer developed by researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) can sense the animal's movements and sounds, and is equipped with speakers and vibrating pads to enable owners to communicate with their pets. "You can think of the 'smart harness' as a platform for two-way computer-mediated communication between dogs and handlers," says NCSU professor David Roberts. One smart harness prototype includes a twin battery back on both sides of the dog, a mounted webcam, vibrating motors, and a wireless USB adapter. Scientists are testing the harness by transmitting signals to it via a laptop to see how the dog reacts.  Potential applications include training pets and working animals such as guide dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.

"We're using this technology to ask some very fundamental questions about the nature of the way that animals can perceive computer-mediated communications and the way they can interact with computers in order to send digital signals across wireless communication links to handlers," Roberts says. The technology also can send signals back to the handler indicating the dog's position and movements.

The technology is customizable, with one prototype having electrocardiography electrodes and other sensors to monitor vital signs indicative of the canine's health and emotional state.

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