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FIDO—Facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations: wearable communication interfaces for working dogs

Abstract

Working dogs have improved the lives of thousands of people throughout history. However, communication between human and canine partners is currently limited. The main goal of the FIDO project is to research fundamental aspects of wearable technologies to support communication between working dogs and their handlers. In this study, the FIDO team investigated on-body interfaces for dogs in the form of wearable technology integrated into assistance dog vests. We created five different sensors that dogs could activate based on natural dog behaviors such as biting, tugging, and nose touches. We then tested the sensors on-body with eight dogs previously trained for a variety of occupations and compared their effectiveness in several dimensions. We were able to demonstrate that it is possible to create wearable sensors that dogs can reliably activate on command, and to determine cognitive and physical factors that affect dogs’ success with body–worn interaction technology.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant IIS-1320690. We also received a seed grant from the Georgia Tech GVU Center. We would like to express our appreciation to Margo Gathright-Dietrich, Candace Atchison, Peggy Donato, Ninette Franz, and Alyssa Eidbo for their time and assistance in testing the sensors. We also thank Paul Mundell, Director of Canine Programs at Canine Companions for Independence, for his advice about requirements for assistance dogs.

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Correspondence to Melody M. Jackson.

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Jackson, M.M., Valentin, G., Freil, L. et al. FIDO—Facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations: wearable communication interfaces for working dogs. Pers Ubiquit Comput 19, 155–173 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00779-014-0817-9

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Keywords

  • Wearable technology
  • Animal–computer interaction
  • Assistance dogs