DogPhone, who dis? University of Glasgow computer scientist Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, who specializes in animal-computer interaction, her labrador Zack, and colleagues have developed a videophone system for dogs. It consists of a ball containing a motion-sensitive switch and wireless radio. When the dog shakes the ball, it triggers a nearby laptop to initiate a call. And yes, you can also call your dog although it's up to the animal whether it can be bothered to answer or not. The researchers presented their work this week at the 2021 ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces Conference in Łódź, Poland. From the University of Glasgow:
Dr Hirskyj-Douglas said: "There are hundreds of internet-connected 'smart toys' on the market that dog owners can buy for their pets, from fitness monitors to remotely-controlled treat dispensers. Smart toys for pets are expected to be a 20 billion dollar industry by 2025.
"However, the vast majority of them are built with the needs of dog owners in mind, allowing them to observe or interact with their pets while away from home. Very few of them seem to consider what dogs themselves might want, or how technology might benefit them as living beings with thoughts and feelings of their own.
"What I wanted to do with DogPhone was find a way to turn Zack from a 'usee' of technology, where he has no choice or control over how he interacts with devices, into a 'user', where he could make active decisions about when, where, and how he placed a call."[…]
Dr Hirskyj-Douglas said: "Of course, we can't know for sure that Zack was aware of the causal link between picking up the ball and making a call, or even that some the interactions which seemed accidental were actually unintended on his part. However, it's clear that on some occasions he was definitely interested in what he was seeing, and that he displayed some of the same behaviours he shows when we are physically together.