Talking Dogs Could Be a Reality in the Near Future
Imagine instead of waking up to a whimpering dog with the need to pee, hearing a Siri-like voice uttering the words, "Would you please get your lazy butt out of bed and let me outside?" That day may not be too far off.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a harness that aids in the communication between dogs and humans. The idea is to improve the abilities of service dogs and rescue dogs, but could also be a way to help with the bond between all dogs and their owners as the existing technology improves.
How does it work? Dogs mainly communicate through body language, and sensors in the harness are designed to relay a dog's feelings through
Dr. Dave Roberts, assistant professor at NC State explains how the technology works.
“Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and one of our challenges was to develop sensors that tell us about their behavior by observing their posture remotely. So we can determine when they’re sitting, standing, running, etc., even when they’re out of sight – a harness-mounted computer the size of a deck of cards transmits those data wirelessly...At the same time, we’ve incorporated speakers and vibrating motors, called haptics, into the harness, which enable us to communicate with the dogs.”
Roberts says that there's already a functioning prototype, and we can expect that improvements to the current design could lead to unlimited possibilities in human-dog communication:
“We’ve developed a platform for computer-mediated communication between humans and dogs that opens the door to new avenues for interpreting dogs’ behavioral signals and sending them clear and unambiguous cues in return. We have a fully functional prototype, but we’ll be refining the design as we explore more and more applications for the platform.”
As a dog lover, I'm all in favor of people better understanding their pets. I can't help but think that humanizing dogs will make ignorant people less likely to abuse and mistreat them. Maybe it's a stretch, but isn't the actual concept of a talking dog a further stretch?