So far, 2021 has been a record-breaking year for nonsense words. The metaverse was welcomed as the major effort of Facebook Meta; NFTs. Those are essentially intangible assets. That has taken on a life of its own; and now, DogPhone is here to be exactly what it sounds like: a phone for dogs.
The DogPhone is a gadget. It is created by Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas. A researcher at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and Zack, her 10-year-old Labrador. It consists of a small ball with a sensor connected to a laptop. The “phone” places a video call to the dog’s owner whenever the dog moves the ball. (Moving the ball also works to answer an incoming call, if the dog is so inclined.)
There is a tonne of brand-new smart home appliances. These are made to give humans more control over their surroundings and insight into what is happening with their pets while they are at home alone. Much less focus is placed on giving the animals themselves any agency in how they interact with technology. The DogPhone was created as a tool to research how dogs interact with technology and to develop their usability. It is not meant for commercial usage or distribution.
Hirskyj-Douglas claims in a YouTube video that she wanted to enhance and research the user experience for dogs, especially in light of the fact that so many canines were given new homes during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, which saw everyone and their mother obtaining a pet.
As it states in the video, “I’ve been creating gadgets for my dog and many other pets for quite some time now.” I believe that many of these gadgets are crucial for providing dogs with options or choices when it comes to activities for enrichment.
Although Hirskyj-Douglas claims that at first, receiving video calls from Zack was “extremely thrilling”. Gradually he hurt her by refusing to chat with her constantly. As a result, she began to worry that something wasn’t right at home on days when he wouldn’t call at the appointed time.
Because occasionally I wouldn’t get a video call or he wouldn’t phone me throughout the day, she said, “it started to get a little worrying for me at the end because I would be thinking, ‘Oh, he normally calls me at this time.'”
Does placing a video call involve explaining what they’re doing to dogs? Are they even highly motivated to “check in” on their humans when they aren’t there? Or are they content to simply hang out with us while we are present? Do they favour Android or iOS? DogPhone currently raises far more questions than it does.