Are dogs getting involved in the world of technology?

Could the future involve our dogs sitting human-like in front of a Smart TV and deciding for his or herself which programme they fancy watching, all the time while we’re at work?

The idea really isn’t that outlandish, especially when you consider it’s already possible to compete with your dog health-wise thanks to the fact there’s now several Doggie Fitbit type apps on the market, while the Petcube allows dog owners to control and direct a laser for their pet to chase – while chatting to them – using a Smartphone video app.

Referred to as Animal Computer Interaction (ACI), the idea of dogs (and other animals) engaging and benefiting from technology, has been around for a number of years now and is finally beginning to come to fruition. Indeed, look out for lots of IT-led dog gadgets over the coming years.

An app which encourages caring

The thinking behind the technology is to allow researchers to monitor dog behaviour and in doing so get more of an understanding of our four legged friends. One app, CompanionViz allows owners to monitor their dog’s exercise, habits and health, for instance. The result is that owners report feeling a strengthened relationship between themselves and their pet.

Research allowing dogs to choose their own TV programmes

Researcher Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, of the University of Lancaster, is the researcher who dreams of dogs being able to entertain themselves by selecting what they want to watch on Smart TV while their owner is out of the house. She is attempting to achieve this by developing intelligent tracking devices for dogs which allow them to interact with media on a TV screen.

Not surprisingly she found that when it came to favourite TV programmes, dogs put videos that allowed them to watch what other dogs were doing, top of their list. In making media especially for dogs then, it seems the main subject matter will be well… dogs.

“This isn’t to create a toy for indulgent pet owners,” said Hirskyi-Douglas. “Dogs are often left at home alone during the day or isolated in kennels. Interactive media technology could improve the animals’ welfare by providing a stimulus and a source of entertainment… [as well as] keeping them away from potentially harmful behaviour due to boredom.”

A ‘coaching’ app with fitness and weight goals in mind

Wonderwoof is a bit like CompanionViz but with more of an aim in mind. It consists of a wearable bowtie for your dog which monitors and creates fitness goals for him or her. Targets are based on the dog’s age, weight and breed. The application encourages the dog to take exercise if not enough has been achieved that day and, if he or she does meet their daily target, then they are praised.

The dog ‘selfie’ taker

PetBot is a device which encourages dogs to send a ‘selfie’ of themselves to their owner while they’re at work. The two-way audio and visual technology involves hardware which can identify the owner’s dog via facial recognition technology, call to it then dispense a treat. An image of the pup enjoying its snack is then received by the owner.

Dating technology for dogs

If you’d like pups but haven’t yet managed to find a breeding companion for your dog then really, don’t worry too much about it, for Tindog may just be the answer. The Tinder for dogs, this allows your canine friend to choose his or her own companion. Whether you’ll approve of that potential partner or not is a whole other matter…

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