Scientists Develop Vest That Allows Dogs To Communicate Better

July 22, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. handler / ˈhænd lər  / (n.) – a person who is in charge of taking care of an animal
Example: The circus lion is always accompanied by its handler.

2. equip / ɪˈkwɪp / (v.) – to give the necessary tools needed to do something
Example: The smartphone is equipped with the latest security features, such as facial recognition software.

3. nudge / nʌdʒ / (v.) – to push
Example: The dog nudged Fred’s palm with its nose to get his attention.

4. sensor / ˈsɛn sɔr / (n.) – a device that is sensitive to something (e.g. motion) and reacts to it
Example: The motion sensors were triggered by the passing cat.

5. vice versa /ˈvaɪs ˈvɜr sə / (adv.) – to also be true despite being the opposite of something
Example: Life would be easier for pet owners if their pet understood them and vice versa


Read the text below.
An associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology developed a vest with technology that allows dog handlers to understand what their dogs are saying.

The project, called Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations (FIDO), is supported by The National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The vests are equipped with side sensors, which the dogs can trigger through a bite or a nudge of their nose. The dogs’ training uses the discrimination task process wherein the dogs are trained to identify between two items—a Frisbee and a ball in this case—and inform their handler which is which. Later on, the skill the dogs gained will become useful in life-threatening situations like bomb detection, where dogs can inform their handler the type of bomb they detected.

Currently, Georgia Tech is working on a vest with a GPS tracking device. Once the dog finds its target, the sensor is activated and GPS coordinates are sent back to the handler. The dog can stay with the injured person until help arrives.

This wearable technology for dogs is not a first. Back in 2014, engineers from North Carolina State University developed a device inserted in a harness that can be worn by dogs. The technology is two-way – it allows dogs to communicate with their handlers and vice versa. The device interprets the dogs’ body language cues by transmitting the information to a handheld device that is with the handler. The handler can use the device to communicate back to the dog.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, how else can the vest be used to make human life better?
·         If you could improve the vest, what features would you add? Why?

Discussion B

·         Which is more important: humans being able to talk to dogs, or dogs being able to communicate with humans? Why do you think so?
·         Aside from being able to communicate with humans, what other abilities do you wish dogs could have?

July 22, 2016