AIBO or organic?
Before we get started, we should say that we have high hopes for the future of organic dog ownership. Come on, AIBOs
have WiFi, a camera and can be programmed to do a wide variety of tasks, and speak in many voices and languages.
There's no reason (besides nature, of course) that our organic dogs shouldn't at least stay competitive with their
Communicating with your dog
In early 2003, the Takara Company in Japan released the
Bow-Lingual Bark translator. The way it works (and we do use
the word "work" loosely) is, your dog wears a small transmitter on its collar, and when poochie barks it transmits to
the receiver, and then translates to one of 200 phrases.
You can also review all the sounds throughout the day for an overall view of your dog's mood. Thousands of dog barks
were recorded and analyzed from most dog breeds (a Chihauhua will have a different voice print than an Irish
Does it work? In our tests, we're pretty sure our dog only says, "Hey," "Hey," "Hey," and, "Hey".
Calling your dog
Next up, is the dog cell phone from PetsCell
we covered before. This phone can be used to either call
your dog, or with the press of a button call you (say, if your dog gets lost). It's also got GPS tracking, so your dog
could be located if needed. (Don't worry though, Rover's probably just out sniffing something's butt.) On the website,
the scenario presented is a woman calling her dog telling him he should be home soon. While we don't think that's a
likely use, the GPS location feature could come in handy provided the unit was small enough and it could be powered for
weeks to months at a time on a single charge.
E-Tags for dogs
New on the scene is the Dog-e-Tag (also one we
covered). The tag is a small device which displays up to 10 lines of 40 characters, such as your dog's name, phone
number, license, and RSS feed—you know, all the things normally found on a dog collar (what, your dog doesn't have a
When pressed it also glows in the dark. You can almost fit all of the
DeCSS code on it, not that we tried or
TOMY of Japan are also introducing a doggie 3.5 megapixel
digital camera (below) that can be worn around its neck,
along with a remote control to trigger the camera. Photos can later be downloaded to a Mac or PC via USB. It's unclear
if it offers a timer function, but regardless that gave us an idea and we made our own version.
Last week we showed you how to make your own
digital camera that automatically took photos from a
digital camera by using a timer chip.
We started to look around and see if there were any small cameras which could be used with our dog's collar; we came
across one not only diminutive enough, but that could also take photos automatically every minute!
The James Bond Stealth Camera from ThinkGeek.
Obviously, since the timer feature was built in we didn't need to hack apart the camera. You can imagine our
Using some fishing wire and the dog's collar we had a pretty good way to attach it.
We looped the string through the battery door and then closed it (and taped it).
Then we tied the string to the dogs collar and it set the camera to take a photo every minute.
Over the course of a day or so, we had the dog take photos. Most of them were pretty good, for a dog.
Gallery of photos taken by a dog
That's just about all we got for now. We know the tech world isn't done outfitting our animals with all sorts of
gear, but it's a good start, right? Translator, wearable tracker/cellphone, electronic ID, and moblogging gear isn't
too bad for a mean little beast without opposable thumbs if you ask us. So next time someone tries to show off their
AIBO, challenge them to a face-off with your cyborg dog, and see who comes out on top. Somehow we have a feeling it'll
be the one who understands sic 'em, boy!
Phillip Torrone can be reached via his personal site: