Researchers use wearable sensors to better communicate with dogs

Sometimes it can be difficult to get your canine companion to get the commands you're giving, but there could be an easier way in the future. Researchers at North Carolina State University are working on a means to improve those communication skills with the help of a smattering of gadgets. The team developed a harness that carries tech for two-way chatting, packing sensors that monitor posture to pick up on a dog's behavioral cues. There are also haptic items built in to enhance the human portion of the equation with software that interprets speech into easily understood signals.

In addition to conversation, the harness has heart-rate and body temperature sensors to keep tabs on Fido's health, in addition to his or her emotional state. Possible applications are widespread, and the device can be customized with items like cameras and microphones for specific tasks -- such as search and rescue. Right now, there's a fully functional prototype, but the group plans to keep refining its design as its trials continue. "This platform is an amazing tool, and we're excited about using it to improve the bond between dogs and their humans," says Dr. Barbara Sherman, a professor of animal behavior at the NC State.