2021 has brought us new words and concepts like Facebook Meta, NFTs and — DogPhone. DogPhone is exactly what it sounds like: a phone for dogs. Developed by a researcher (Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas) at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and Zack, her 10-year-old labrador, the DogPhone itself is comprised of a small ball equipped with a sensor and connected to a laptop. When a dog moves the ball, the “phone” initiates a video call to the dog’s owner (moving the ball also works to answer an incoming call, if the dog is so inclined). The DogPhone — which isn’t intended for commercial use or distribution — was invented as a way to study the way dogs experience technology and to innovate around their ease-of-use.
… While the researchers says it was “very exciting” to receive video calls from Zack initially, eventually he burned her by not wanting to talk all the time — which inevitably led to her feeling anxious that something was wrong at home on the days when he wouldn’t call at a regularly scheduled time.
… Do dogs understand what they’re doing when they place a video call? Do they even experience a high-level desire to “check in” on their humans when they’re not around, or are they content enough to just hang out with us when we’re there in person? Do they prefer iOS or Android? For now, DogPhone asks a lot more questions than it answers.