Will my dog be able to do the washing?

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In the future, this is not so ridiculous as it might seem! Animal/computer interaction technology is being researched as we speak, all over the globe.

Already, on the market, there are touch screen apps/games for your pets, for example there is a game where your cat can  chase a mouse/butterfly/bird across the screen and when they hit it with their paw it makes a sound!

In Long Beach, California, a bird-keeper at an aquarium wanted to see how these ‘cat’ apps affected her penguins, and the results were highly surprising! The Penguins were immediately intrigued, and played the ‘game’ very regularly, and looking like they were enjoying it. The bird-keeper said that this was fantastic, as it offered great brain & body stimulation for the captive animals and also, as they stood still in one spot for a time, the keeper could expect them for any health issues, so two benefits in one!

Other animals have also worked with this type of technology including Orangutans, Gorillas & Sun Bears. Even Tortoises have been researched using these apps! They apparently really enjoyed them, as, according to ‘tortoise handlers’ the longer the tortoise’s neck length, the more it is comfortable with its surroundings, and they all had nice long necks while using the app.! Tortoises were also quicker to train up to use it than dogs were!

Research studies have found that animals do lose interest after a period of time, but just like their human counterparts, the younger ones were more fascinated and lasted longer on them than the older animals!

This year in November in Milton Keynes there is the ‘7th International conference on Animal-Computer Interaction’ which has been held in different countries around the world. (Who knew this existed?)It is a highly multidisciplinary event drawing researchers and practitioners from the most diverse back grounds to share and discuss work and topics related to the research and design of interactive technology  for and with animals.

Studies have been around a long time using animals & Technology  (For example, in the 80’s great apes were studied using touch screens to learn human language) With the new ‘smart’ technology, this has meant that the options for animal-computer interaction are much more varied and easier.

The research has high-lighted many things when training dogs. For instance, to detect cancer, they found that dogs could distinguish between sizes of Push-buttons on equipment, but couldn’t see red or green, yet blue and yellow were ok. They obviously have had to make the buttons large (20 x 20 cms) to enable a dog to be able to use it.

Research developments are on-going with ‘smart’ equipment in the home, to make them more animal-friendly to use and not just base them on design for human interaction, so who knows, the time may be getting nearer for your dog to be able to do the washing!

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