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DogPhone flips the script and lets your pet video call you

It’s always time for walkies, even when you’re not around.

black dog with the dogphone, video calling system for pets
Image: Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas

Ever wondered if your dog wanted to talk to you while you were out of the house? Well, if the DogPhone turns into a real product, you’ll never have to wonder ever again because your furry companion will be able to video call you whenever they please.

It’s the brainchild of Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas of the University of Glasgow, who created the system to give the pet more agency in how they interact with their owners while the owner isn’t at home.

She says that most systems work the other way around, with the human initiating the video call. That’s fine to check in to make sure their pets are okay but does nothing for the pet’s personal well-being.

That changes with the DogPhone, a soft ball that triggers a video call when moved around by the pet. That could just mean lots of accidental calls, to begin with, but maybe with some training, the pet could know it can talk to its owner using the system.

It’s been well established that “giving animals choice and control… …improve[s] their welfare and wellbeing.” This type of system could be the next step in creating deeper communication between pets and their owners.

The thing is, at this stage, Hirskyj-Douglas fully accepts that, while giving dogs a choice is a good thing, “we may not understand the choice they’re making.” That sounds like a good reason to fund more research to me.

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