Is the loneliness of dogs left alone at home over? Thanks to a still experimental device developed by the University of Glasgow, faithful four-legged companions will be able to video call their masters and interact remotely.
The “DogPhone” was invented by Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, a specialist in animal-computer interaction at the University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK), who seeks to improve the lives of animals through technology, with the help of Zack, his 10- one year old black Labrador and colleagues from Aalto University in Finland.
It is the “first system of its kind that allows animals to use the Internet to contact their owners,” the University of Glasgow said in a statement Wednesday.
Its inventors hope that the DogPhone, whose experimentation continues, will help alleviate separation anxiety in the large number of dogs acquired during the pandemic, who have become accustomed to the omnipresence of humans during confinement and are alone since their return to the office.
The system consists of a ball equipped with an accelerometer that, when the dog shakes it, activates a video call to its owner through a computer.
portable or connected to the device. The owner can also call his animal, who is free to ignore the call or answer it.
After he was taught how to use the ball, he was given “lab assistant” Zack to play for a period of 16 days spread over three months.
Despite some accidental calls, the Labrador used the prototype to contact his owner and show him the toys they often play together, “suggesting that he wanted to interact with their owner,” the statement said. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas showed her her workplace, a restaurant, and even a busker, making her pet prick up her ears and come closer to the screen.
“Of course, we cannot be sure that Zack is aware of the causal link between picking up the ball and making a call, or even that some of the seemingly accidental interactions are actually accidental,” the researcher commented.
“But it is clear that in some cases he was really interested in what he was seeing and that he adopted some of the same behaviors that he shows when we are physically together,” he added.
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