Communicating with your pet dog: 'Smart harness' allows humans and dogs to understand each other better

The smart harness can be used for dog training.Pixabay

Humans can now understand dogs better, thanks to a technology developed by U.S. researchers.

Engineers at North Carolina State University have designed a "smart harness," which features a communication device that comes in a backpack and is placed on a dog's back.

The device works when the user sends a signal to the worn harness via a tablet. Researchers observed how the dog reacted to the signals and then gave cues to reinforce certain commands.

One of the prototypes for the device had a twin battery pack, a webcam, vibrating system, and a USB adapter among others, reports said.

"We're using this technology to ask some very fundamental questions about the way that animals can perceive computer-mediated communications and the way they can interact with computers in order to send digital signals across wireless communication links to handlers," said David Roberts, a computer science assistant professor and a participant of the smart harness project.

The researchers trained a dog named Diesel for the device trials. Diesel was taught how to interpret vibrations on its sides as David Roberts gave the signal.

A team member then used a tablet to create a vibration on the side of the body which the dog was expected to turn to. Roberts then gave cues to reinforce the command.

The harness carries sensors that are sensitive enough to detect the dog's movement and noises, allowing owners to understand how the animal feels.

Aside from the mentioned features, E&T reported that the device could also send information back to the owner to inform them of the dog's position. Furthermore, it can monitor vital statistics like heart rate, which can be useful in assessing a dog's health condition.

Alpert Bozkurt, an electrical and computer engineering assistant professor, said it was the team's dream to enable people to train dogs at home the way professionals do so that "pets can be turned into working animals."

The team also said the device could be used in several applications, including search and rescue training.