Would you like to talk to your dog?

Have you ever looked at the expression on your dog’s face and wondered what it was thinking? Well, we may soon have the ability to communicate with canines, with researchers from Georgia Tech working on a way to give dogs the ability to ‘speak’.

Melody Moore Jackson from Georgia Tech’s BrainLab is currently working on a project called FIDO, which stands for Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations. She is experimenting with a special type of vest that may give dogs the ability to deliver an audio or text message to a designated contact. These computerised vests could have huge potential for service dogs who often need to communicate with their ‘masters’.

The vests feature a lever on which a dog can tug, as well as a sensor that the dog can touch with its nose in order to activate a controller unit that sends an audio or text message.

And although we’d all love to have the ability to talk to our dogs, the vest is being developed specifically for service dogs, with the benefits of such technology being potentially huge.

Say a service dog’s owner is unconscious. The dog could attract the attention of a passer-by and send a message along the lines of “excuse me my owner needs your attention”. Search and rescue dogs could also use the vests to alert search parties of a GPS location when they find someone in a remote area. It may also allow dogs to communicate with third parties, even if they are not usually inclined to do so under normal circumstances.

It could also alert blind people of hazards that a dog may detect, but cannot convey to their keeper. One such example of this was demonstrated when a dog stopped his blind owner from walking across wet concrete. The blind man, using his cane, felt nothing in his way and ordered the dog to walk on. If the dog was wearing a FIDO vest, the blind owner may not have had concrete boots when he arrived home.

Jackson has already tested eight dogs wearing vests with five different sensors, and the longest time it took a dog to learn the system was 30 minutes –one dog learned it in just 27 seconds.

Hopefully it won’t be too long until we can communicate with our canine friends.

Read more at Business Insider

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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