Dogs communicate with humans using newly developed wearable technology
Maybe you’re familiar with Cybercop and Cyborg Cop TV shows and movies, maybe not. But you are most likely not familiar with cyber dogs. They’re actually rescue dogs in an experimental phase of developing Cyber-Enhanced Working Dog (CEWD) technology. The purpose is to enhance communication between humans and dogs, especially for the service of search and rescue teams.
This work is going on at North Carolina State University, and it’s at the prototype stage with real dogs. The aim is to establish better two-way communication between rescue workers and dogs in the immediate future, and perhaps even create a cyber link for improved communication between dogs and trainers or even owners.
“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,” said Dr. David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-lead author. “We have a fully functional prototype, but we’ll be refining the design as we explore more and more applications for the platform.”
For search and rescue work, the harnessed pack of equipment, which fits comfortably on a medium- to large-size dog, can be equipped with sensors, cameras and microphones to send back accurate environmental data to the rescue dog handlers.
This a far cry from the old St. Bernard image of carrying a cask of whiskey for skiers and climbers injured and trapped in the snow.
The next phase of testing will focus on service dogs for folks with PTSD or other mental, emotional and physical issues, and guide dogs for the blind. That equipment will be suited for measuring the dog’s stress and signaling that to its owner.
This author has seen a few people with service dog entitlement issues who seem oblivious to the dog’s needs. Their dogs may require the use of a service human after their emotional abuse.
A final phase is planned for adapting the technology for dog trainers and regular dog owners who wish to better handle their dogs.
“This platform is an amazing tool, and we’re excited about using it to improve the bond between dogs and their humans,” said Dr. Barbara Sherman, a clinical professor of animal behavior at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of the paper.
The paper that all the above were involved with is “Towards Cyber-Enhanced Working Dogs for Search and Rescue,” and it was published in the digital journal IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) online on October 1, 2014.
One of the technologies applied toward enhancing canine communications is haptics, the new science of applying tactile or touch sensation and control to interaction with computer applications. Here’s an excerpt from the paper’s summary abstract:
“From handler to dog, haptic feedback and auditory cues are integrated to provide remote command and feedback delivery. From dog to handler, multiple inertial measurement units strategically located on a harness are used to accurately detect posture and behavior, and concurrent non-invasive photoplethysmogram and electrocardiogram for physiological monitoring.”
A more basic and subtle technique for animal communications
You may know a little about “horse whisperers” or animal communicators and psychics who are gifted with the telepathic skills to handle animals’ behavioral problems, depression or other emotional stress.
Did you know that one of the nation’s most gifted and sought-after animal psychics offers courses and books to help other learn how to do what she does at whatever level one is capable?
Her name is Penelope Smith. Her site is AnimalTalk.net (source below). Thus, one may communicate with his or her pet without encumbering it with inhibiting, expensive equipment.
This author knows from isolated experiences with a variety of animals how possible and powerful this level of communication is. It benefits the human spiritually and creates an even better bond with the spirit in an animal’s body than technology can produce.