You know what 2020 will be remembered for, sadly. 2021 was a similar year, but we also saw the birth of new, strange words. Metaverse, for example: Facebook has changed its name to embrace this idea of perspective that could be the new internet. Another strange word is NFT, a way to provide "physical" possession also of digital and widespread goods.
The last word in chronological order, the one I'm talking about in this post, is DogPhone. Unlike the others, it is easier to interpret as it is stupid. Yes, that's what it sounds like: a dog phone.
But why? Because?
Developed by the doctor Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, researcher at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and by Zack, his 10-year-old Labrador, the DogPhone consists of a ball equipped with a sensor and connected to a laptop. When the dogs move the ball, the “phone” initiates a video call to the owner (moving the ball also works to answer an incoming call).
I know what many of you are thinking. There is a bunch of new demotics gadgets. This was just a natural consequence: after all, there are so many objects in bloom to monitor pets when you are away. Even remote food dispensers, or surveillance cameras. The next phase of a world sick with nomophobia is to try to make animals interact with our obsessions as well. And who better than dogs, our closest friends?
It must be said that the DogPhone is not (for now?) Intended for commercial use or distribution, but it was invented to study the way where dogs experiment with technology and to try to make an interface that can also be used by them.
Transmitting obsessions to dogs too: we are doing it well
Regarding the development of the prototype, the Hirskyj-Douglas claims in a YouTube video that he has tried to improve a "user experience" for dogs. “I've been building devices for my dog and many other dogs for some time,” says the researcher in the short film. "I think a lot of these devices are really important to give dogs more choices to get experience."
Yet hearing her speak it seems that the experience was especially special for her. "It was very inspiring to get video calls from Zack initially." Eventually, however, the dog stopped talking to her assiduously, generating new concerns in the owner.
He got a little more anxious for me because sometimes I didn't get a video call or he didn't call me during the day, and I thought, 'Oh, he usually calls me at this time.'Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas
In this I will probably seem retrograde to you. And I speak as a dog owner, even a Labrador. Do dogs understand what they are doing when they make a video call? Do they also have this anxiety to "control" their human partners when they are not at home, or are they just content with us when they see us?