Technology for dogs to assist humans in the home

Apr 26, 2013
Technology for dogs to assist humans in the home

A team at The Open University is designing dog-friendly technologies which will help animals and people to work together in their homes. They will present the significance of this approach in a paper at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems next week (1 May 2013).

"These technologies will be designed for and with the active participation of the dogs. And the idea is that they will work in a variety of environments where the dogs are required to operate," explains Dr Clara Mancini, head of the Animal- team at the OU.

The team is collaborating with the charity Dogs for the Disabled who train assistance dogs. These dogs are trained to help their disabled owners with a wide range of tasks, from operating and door handles to loading and unloading washing machines. However, the technology the dogs have to use is designed for humans rather than animals, which can be difficult and frustrating for dogs and owners.

"When the dogs move from the training facility to their new home, instead of being faced with a different set of devices which they have to learn from scratch, they would bring their own 'toolkit' of plug-on appliances with them," said Clara.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The research began two years ago, when a team in the Computing Department of The Open University launched the first systematic research programme in Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI), to create technology designed for and by animals.

The radical new principle behind ACI is to involve the animals as active participants in and contributors to the design process.

This principle is also being applied to other projects; the team has collaborated with Retrieva Ltd, investigating how the use of influences the behaviour of both humans and dogs, and in developing a biosensing harness to monitor the vital signs of .

"We are collaborating with the charity Medical , who train dogs to detect traces of by sniffing biological samples," said Clara.

"We aim to develop interactive devices which the dogs could use to help humans better interpret the dog's findings; and dog-friendly alert systems that the dogs could use to summon help for their assisted humans."

ACI is not confined to . The team is also preparing to start a project aiming to develop interactive games for humans and wild animals, for example allowing resident elephants and human visitors to play together in wildlife parks. They believe ACI has potential in areas ranging from feeding pets to improving the life of farm animals.

The team is using design methodologies adapted from Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and its user-centred approach.

The challenge is developing user-centred methodologies for someone who doesn't speak the same language we do or who doesn't think the same way we do," says Clara.

The HCI toolbox has several methods which are not based on self-report, – for example naturalistic observation, user-testing in the lab, bio sensing or the use of ergonomic principles. We can begin by adapting these to try and understand how animals see the world and invite them to re-design the future with us to build a more sustainable society for everyone."

Explore further: Study reveals mature motorists worse at texting and driving

More information: oro.open.ac.uk/view/person/cm476.html.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

See spot see

Mar 02, 2013

(HealthDay)—It's a dog-see-dog world. With no sniffing involved, dogs can recognize the faces of other dogs among the faces of humans and other animal species, according to a new study.

Computer savvy canines

Nov 28, 2007

Like us, our canine friends are able to form abstract concepts. Friederike Range and colleagues from the University of Vienna in Austria have shown for the first time that dogs can classify complex color photographs and ...

Dogs outdo humans at detecting rare noxious weed

Jun 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A field test in Montana pitted dog against human in an effort to identify and eradicate spotted knapweed. This weed threatens the survival of native species and can bring about both economic and ecosystem ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals mature motorists worse at texting and driving

47 minutes ago

A Wayne State University interdisciplinary research team in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has made a surprising discovery: older, more mature motorists—who typically are better drivers in ...

Napster co-founder to invest in allergy research

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—Napster co-founder Sean Parker missed most of his final year in high school and has ended up in the emergency room countless times because of his deadly allergy to nuts, shellfish and other foods.

LA mayor plans 7,000 police body cameras in 2015

Dec 16, 2014

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a plan Tuesday to equip 7,000 Los Angeles police officers with on-body cameras by next summer, making LA's police department the nation's largest law enforcement agency to move ...

Merriam-Webster names 'culture' word of the year

Dec 15, 2014

A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year: culture.

In Curiosity Hacked, children learn to make, not buy

Dec 14, 2014

With her right hand, my 8-year-old daughter, Kalian, presses the red-hot soldering iron against the circuit board. With her left hand, she guides a thin, tin wire until it's pressing against both the circuit board and the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bordercollie
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2013
This is SO incredibly thoughtful! Both for humans and the animals. Wonderful! Reposting to FB.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.