It’s been a banner year for inane terms thus far, with 2021 proving to be no exception. Facebook Meta, the metaverse (more of a concept than an actual entity at this point) has been embraced as the main initiative, NFTs, which are essentially intangible assets, have taken on a life of their own, and now DogPhone is looking to make an appearance, although it’s unclear whether the term will actually stick.
It sounds like something you’d see in a movie about the future -a computer-generated dog phone with digital keys and fluid display.
DogPhone is also reminiscent of another fairly recent entry into cutting-edge technology, PetCube, which has become yet another product catering to an obsolete demographic, or at least a rapidly transforming one.
During prototyping the device, Hirskyj-Douglas says in a YouTube video that she sought to improve and study the user experience for canines, particularly given how many of them were adopted during the 2020 covid-19 lockdown when everyone and their mother acquired a pet. “I’ve been developing devices for my dog and other dogs for a long time,” she says. “I’m used to making them not only fun but also functional.”
It was really exciting to me when I first started getting video chats from Zack, but eventually he burned me by not wanting to talk all the time, which led to me being anxious that something was wrong at home on the days when he didn’t call at a regular time.Hirskyj Douglas
The DogPhone is a tiny ball with a sensor and a laptop connected, which makes it possible to have video chats with dogs’ owners.
When the dog moves the ball, the “phone” creates a video call to the dog’s owner (moving the ball also answers an incoming call if the dog is so inclined).
While there are numerous new smart home gadgets created to give humans more control over their environments and insight into what’s going on with their pets when they’re at home alone, far less focus is paid to giving the actual animals any control in how they use technology.
The DogPhone (which isn’t intended for commercial usage or distribution) was designed as a research tool to help improve the lives of pets and their owners.
Bernard’s work is focused on studying pet-human interaction, and he plans for this data to also be used in the future to help pair people with animals.
“We do focus on improving life, not only quality of life, but we want to make sure we improve the emotional well-being of both the dog and the owner,” Bernard says.
Do dogs recognize what they’re doing when they make a video call? Do they have a high-level want to “check-in” on their people when they’re not around, or are they happy enough to just hang out with us when we’re in person? Is it better for humans to use iOS or Android?
For the time being, DogPhone is more of an art project than a product, but it’s worth considering the potential implications that technology like this could have for future generations.
Would you give your dog his/her own phone? Leave a comment below!