Amazing New Harness Helps Dogs And Humans Communicate

Christina Peden
by Christina Peden
The new technology could have applications for everything from search and rescue dogs to our pets and shelter animals

Researchers at North Carolina State University have come up with a pawsome new kind of wearable technology for dogs. The device actually comes in the form of a harness, and uses a unique system to facilitate communication between humans and pooches, even when if the dog is out of sight.

It also has two technical components: one that will allow people to communicate with dogs, and one that will allow dogs to communicate with people through their body language.

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“Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and one of our challenges was to develop sensors that tell us about their behavior by observing their posture remotely,” says Dr. David Roberts, co-lead author on the study. “So we can determine when they’re sitting, standing, running, etc., even when they’re out of sight – a harness-mounted computer the size of a deck of cards transmits those data wirelessly.”

The team incorporated speakers and vibrating motors (called haptics) into the harness, which will allow humans to communicate with the pooches through voice commands.

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The harness also has built-in physiological sensors that monitor things like body temperature and heart rate. This way, we’ll be able to track not only the dog’s physical well-being, but also their emotional state, like whether they’re stressed or excited.

Roberts, along with colleagues Sean Mealin and Dr. Barbara Sherman, have also developed special add-ons that can be used to enhance the harness’s capabilities, depending on what kind of “job” a dog is doing.

If it’s a search and rescue dog, the harness can be outfitted with environmental sensors to detect, say, gas leaks, and a camera and microphone to collect additional information from the dog’s surroundings.

The team also hopes that the many sensors will be used to help detect stress in dogs, particularly working pooches such as guide dogs, who are trained to not show stress. “This can help handlers identify and mitigate stress for the dogs, improving the length and quality of a dog’s life,” adds Mealin.

Roberts, Mealin and Sherman are now in the process of miniaturizing the technologies and improving the physiological sensors so the harness can be used in animal shelters and hospitals.

We can’t wait to see this harness and action and hope it’s available to the general public in the near future. Just imagine how our bond with dogs will grow and deepen because of the greater understanding we have with our pooches. We’ll keep you up to date on any developments.

[Source: North Carolina State University]

Christina Peden
Christina Peden

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

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