(Representational Image) DogPhone. This new device lets your pooch call you whenever they need you. Pet parents can do video calls with their pets, while at work. Photograph:( Others )
Despite being shown how the system worked five times, the owner's diary details calls between her and the pet, the latter never appeared to know what he was doing
Have you ever wondered what your pooch is doing alone at home, while you're stuck at work? Do you worry about them and wish there was a way they could contact you whenever they need you?
Well if so, your prayers have been answered. Researchers have now developed a hi-tech option for dogs left at home alone: a ball that lets dogs call their owners.
DogPhone is a ball-shaped device that, when moved, sends a signal to your laptop, launches a video call and sounds like a phone ringing.
As well as taking the call and hanging up when it's over, the pet parent can also place a call to their pet - although the pooch must move the ball to pick it up.
Existing technology allows you to measure your pets' steps or ring them or remotely give them food, but your dog doesn't really have a choice, explains first author, Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas of the University of Glasgow.
According to her, studies have shown that giving animals choice and control can improve their welfare.
She said that the DogPhone gives the dog some sense of agency by considering both the owner and the dog.
Hirskyj-Douglas said the experiment is just one way to demonstrate that dogs can operate technology.
Even though a canine social media, or FaceBark, has not yet been created, Hirskyj-Douglas envisions a day when dogs can call each other.
The possibilities are endless, she said.
As part of the testing process, Hirskyj-Douglas and her nine-year-old black labrador, Zack, tested the DogPhone over 16 days to ensure it had the right level of motion sensitivity.
Despite being shown how the system worked five times, the owner's diary details calls between her and the pet, the latter never appeared to know what he was doing.
During the testing days, Zack was left alone for approximately eight hours. Many of the calls appear to have been accidents, although the team cautions that it may just be human perception.
Hirskyj-Douglas said the technology might be helpful for pets, especially dogs that find it hard to be separated from their owners. However, she admits the device had caused her anxiety.
She explained that giving dogs a choice is what it is all about. It may not make sense to us what they are choosing, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have a choice, she added.