Local News

Smartphones bring people, pets closer together

Posted August 6, 2015 2:49 p.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2018 3:39 p.m. EDT

— We know that technology can bring together humans who are geographically far apart, but a local research team says it can do the same for people and their pets.

Assistant Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, Dr. David Roberts and his team comprised of an electrical engineer, computer scientist and graduate students have developed new technology. Their Dog Smart Harness is outfitted with sensors and a small computer that can tell dog owners, in real-time, what their dog is doing.

"The possibilities are endless when you start to think about what you can accomplish when you have computers as a bridge between humans and dogs,” Roberts said.

In addition to monitoring the dog, the team said it hopes that the harness will allow the owner to send signals to their four legged friend. It's just like telling a dog to sit, but now it can be done from three rooms away just by using a phone.

"These are just gentle vibrations, like your cell phone vibrating in your pocket, and we can turn these on, in different places on the dog and train them to respond so that you can send signals to them over greater distances,” Roberts said.

Roberts has also partnered with a veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Barbara Sherman. She is most excited about a third capability that monitors a dog's environment and could be useful for search and rescue.

“A human that needs to be rescued can be out of sight, but through this system can actually communicate what it sees through a camera or what it has detected by scent like the scent of a human,” Sherman said.

The technology not only builds bonds, but it could save lives.

Researchers say that the new technology isn't intended to replace human interaction with dogs, only enhance it.