Missing your dog while you're away from home? Now researchers have developed a gadget that will let you keep in touch with your fur baby: the DogPhone.
Created by the University of Glasgow's Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas and her labrador Zack, the DogPhone is a soft ball equipped with a sensor and connected to a laptop. When a dog moves the ball, the device can launch a video call to the owner or answer an incoming call.
"I've been building devices for my dog and many other dogs for quite a while now. I think a lot of these devices are important to give dogs choices or options to do things for enrichment reasons," Hirskyj-Douglas shared in a YouTube video. "For instance, they could use it to play music, or video-call to their human, like in this example."
There are other devices out there that allow you to monitor your dog but as the researcher noted, your furry friend "has no control over this."
"No one knows what a dog would do if they had control over a video call," she added.
Do dogs understand video calls?
In her research, Hirskyj-Douglas left her dog Zack home alone for an average of eight hours for 16 days. She got excited whenever Zack would initiate a video call but she eventually got anxious whenever the dog wouldn't ring her at a regularly scheduled time.
For most of the video interactions between them, Zack nudged the DogPhone by accident and was asleep with the device. There were some instances when Hirskyj-Douglas would leave the call on to talk to her labrador as he watched her on-screen.
"From this experiment, what it really demonstrated to me is that we can form technology differently from animals. Animals can be active users of technology, we just really need to reshape our thinking about how we see the future.