Tonawanda News


August 5, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Pet technology: Dog bytes and barks

Before smartphones interrupted our lives there was another equally addicting computerized gadget in our pockets. It was keychain-sized and the icon started out as an egg. It then shook and hatched out into a little virtual pet. The Japanese created Tamagotchi pet had to be fed, cleaned up after and played with. It aged like a real animal and could be toilet trained by pairing behavioral cues like making a face and stink lines with the toilet icon.

I can still remember having to take a rest during my weekly middle school bowling league to look at my Tamagothci to make sure it was being cared for. I used those three buttons meticulously to ensure its happy meter was full and the hungry meter was low.

Today there are more complex virtual pets, with many more virtual ways to interact. There are also many more ways to interact with your real pet virtually.

Around ten years ago a Japanese created technology emerged that strengthened the bridged between human and dog communication. Bowlingual, a dog translator, categorizes a dog’s bark into six ‘fundamental patterns’ and tells you what they are saying from 200 preprogrammed phrases.

The sending device looks like a common dog collar and the receiver is the size of a small walkie-talkie. When this entertainment device first came out iti was only available in Japan, was around $75 and only translated the dog’s barking into Japanese. Today it is easily found on eBay and I found some that were being sold for ten dollars! I see Christmas presents in the near future. If the

creators of Meowlingual are reading this, I will gladly accept a sample for my cats.

Of course technology can be used for meaningful purposes as well. There are now apps on Smartphones that can be used in conjunction with certain leashes to track where your lost pet can be found. Other apps list the five closest dog parks, so you can take your pet for much needed exercise in a social setting. Some apps now link medicine taken, most recent weight, veterinarian contact information, rabies ID, microchip number, birth date, pictures and breeder info all at one source. Luckily there are many sources out there competing and the price for these apps are only a few dollars or even free.

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