Wearable tech can improve communication between humans and dogs


US scientists have developed a piece of wearable technology that could improve communication between dogs and humans.

The harness, which is fitted with sensors to monitor a dog's posture and vital signs, could also be used to help with training or to gather data.

Dr David Roberts, assistant professor of computer science at North Carolina State University, where the prototype was developed, said that by monitoring the dog's body language, owners could better understand their pets.

"We can determine when they're sitting, standing, running, even when they're out of sight," he told the BBC.

Information from heart-rate and body-temperature sensors can also reveal whether the dog is excited or stressed.

Sean Mealin, who also assisted the project's development as a PhD student at NC State, said that revealing the dog's emotional state could be particularly useful.

"This can help handlers identify and mitigate stress for the dogs," he said. "It's an important issue. Particularly because guide dogs are bred and trained not to display signs of stress in their behavior".

The wearable tech could also help reinforce training methods, as motors located on the harness are capable of nudging the dog to emphasize a spoken command or alert the animal if it is a long way from its owner.

In addition, the device could be supplemented with additional sensors such as microphones and cameras to help collect information from disaster areas.

Researchers at the university have confirmed that there is still work to be done to improve the device's sensors and reduce the size of the harness, but there is hope that the product could see use in animal shelters and hospitals soon.

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