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The discovery has been deemed a way to help animals with their separation anxiety and take ownership with technology.

University of Glasgow researchers have developed DogPhone, a device that pets can use to contact their owners. The device is created with pets in mind, aiming to help animals with separation anxiety from their owners. DogPhone works by having a pet pick up and shake a soft ball, which is fitted with an accelerometer that then initiates a video call with the owner when it senses movement. 

While many smart toys for pets exist such as automatic treat dispensers, most of them are created with the owner in mind. Dr Hirskyj-Douglas, a specialist in animal-computer interaction at the University’s School of Computing Science created the device with the intention of creating something that a pet may want. She wanted her dog Zack to have some autonomy and be able to actively use the device. 

When experimenting with the device, she found that while her dog may have placed some accidental calls, he showed real interest in the interactions that he had with her through the screen and showed similar behaviours as he would when they were together. However, Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas also considered that she would feel anxious if she called and Zack didn’t pick up and would consider this side-effect in the future.

She said: “More refined versions of devices like DogPhone, built backed by further research into what dogs find appealing and comfortable, have real potential to turn the internet of things into a useful tool for animals, built around their needs and wants."


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