OK, OK, so the headline was a little misleading. It’s not actually a vest (it’s a backpack-vest hybrid), and it doesn’t exactly let your dog speak, but this innovative technology is going to do some serious good.
Named Fido (Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations) by its Georgia Tech researchers, the “smart backpack” allows dogs to contact emergency services, send messages, and share GPS locations via built-in sensors that the
dog hero can simply bite on or nudge with their nose to activate.
The team’s lead researcher, Professor Melody Jackson, explains that the technology will allow service dogs to expand their capabilities beyond the standard duties of search and rescue, bomb-sniffing, and medical assistance. So basically, service dogs will become even more bada$$ than they already are.
Professor Jackson (who I’ll admit I kept misreading as Peter Jackson, since she’s also clearly capable of creating glorious magic) cited an epilepsy alert dog as just one of many potential scenarios for this technology.
While these service dogs are already expertly trained to anticipate seizures and push their handlers up against a wall to avoid further injury, the backpack could essentially allow dogs to call 911 in an emergency. When a seizure occurs, the dog would tug the backpack’s sensor, activating the handler’s cell phone to dial for help. Alternately, the dog could be trained to find another person and trigger a different sensor that prompts the vest to say, “My handler needs you to come with me!”
Eventually, these innovations could prove useful for regular dog owners, allowing dogs to communicate when they’re hungry, or want to go outside, or desperately need a belly scratch (all very important things).
Watch Professor Jackson’s Tedx Talk below!