Fancy a dog phone? You may have a long wait.

Outside the home, dog owners can use technology to talk to their pets, track their every move, throw projectiles into the air, and even ...

Outside the home, dog owners can use technology to talk to their pets, track their every move, throw projectiles into the air, and even spy on them while they sleep.

There is little more dogs themselves can do than gaze longingly out the window. Perhaps this is why the possibility of a “DogPhone” briefly fascinated the media world. Who wouldn’t want to take that call?

But the new search that inspired these stories, led by Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, Assistant Professor at the University of Glasgow, was mostly ambitious.

The study only looked at one dog. The device was not a real phone and is nothing like the market. And the results were inconclusive at best.

Using a bullet equipped with a motion-sensing device that triggers video calls, Dr.Hirskyj-Douglas, who specializes in animal-computer interaction, gave his 10-year-old Labrador Retriever, Zack, the power to summon him by simply moving his toy.

“I thought something like this might help dogs somehow have more control and choices,” Dr Hirskyj-Douglas said in an interview. “We decide so much about their lives that maybe having that choice alone is in itself exciting. “

The research, published last month in the journal ACM’s work on human-machine interaction took place over 16 days, with variations in the sensitivity of the device. Zack was not trained to use the so-called DogPhone, the researchers said.

During the experiment, Zack called Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas about five times a day and over 50 times in all. Almost all of the calls appear to have been made by accident, according to the study.

“The dog was playing with his pig and accidentally pushed the ball,” said the record for a 30-second call.

“The dog called by accident (climbing onto the couch) and then fell asleep,” the following read, lasting 16 seconds.

And in dozens of calls, the dog was asleep when he pushed the motion sensor into action. “Sleeping dog cuddling the ball.”

A leading animal behavior specialist, Dr Patricia McConnell, was skeptical of the study. “A sample of one – a person and a dog – does not do a study,” said Dr. McConnell, “and I wish there had been more effort to train the dog to use the device instead of hoping he would understand it. “

But she said the authors were to “be commended for their interest in finding ways to give dogs more agency in their lives, especially when left alone at home.”

She said the study raises some interesting questions. “Do our dogs want to hear us when we are away from home?” Or would they say, ‘Don’t call me, I’ll call you?’ “

In the article, Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas and colleagues recognized their limitations in understanding what a dog meant, or didn’t mean, to do. “It is possible that we humans do not know what an animal’s intentions are or how it would intentionally interact with computer systems,” they wrote.

In the final days of the study, interactions with Zack were longer and he called more often, regardless of his intention.

During their video calls, Dr Hirskyj-Douglas told Zack about his day and talked about upcoming visits to the dog park. He was especially engaged, she said, when she turned her camera around to show him the city she was moving through, passing buskers and heading underground.

He was not always so committed. “The dog called me but was not interested in our call instead of checking things out in his bed,” Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas wrote of a call. “He was busy elsewhere.

She noted that Zack never picked up when she called.

Dr Hirskyj-Douglas said that while his research did not reveal what Zack wanted to do, it did show that dogs could use an interactive digital device like his, if given the option.

“They don’t always have to be these passive users of the technology that we make, and yet all the technology that comes out primarily is passive use,” she said, adding that her research “has shown that the future of canine technology can be very different from what it is now.

The pet monitoring industry is booming. As products with cameras, speakers, and GPS devices have flourished, more and more pet owners are turning to devices that allow them to be with their pets, even when ‘they are not physically in the room.

Last year, the pet technology market exceeded $ 5.5 billion, according to a industry report by research firm Global Market Insights, which predicts the market will reach over $ 20 billion by 2027. Top-selling products include necklaces and toys equipped with GPS trackers.

Dr Hirskyj-Douglas said technology like his device, which was not developed for sale, could potentially help relieve isolation and separation anxiety in pets – a problem that many pet owners have noted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts said it was not clear to what extent canine tech products could help.

Dr McConnell, a retired University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, and Dr Andrea Y. Tu, a veterinary behaviorist who was also not involved in the research, said there was very little researching technology designed for dogs.

Products currently on the market, like video cameras, might be great for some pets, but might create more anxiety in others, they said. They also noted inconclusive research as to whether dogs could fully recognize human faces on the screens.

“Dogs are so changeable, they’re just like us,” Dr. McConnell said. She said she was fascinated to see more research on agency and pet autonomy, and how it might change human relationships with dogs.

Dr Hirskyj-Douglas, who dedicated the study to her dog, said she hoped there would be a shift towards using networked devices to expand a pet’s world and give a greater sense of freedom.

“I’m a doggie nut who would love to see more dog-controlled technology,” she said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Fancy a dog phone? You may have a long wait.
Fancy a dog phone? You may have a long wait.
Newsrust - US Top News
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