The Royal Society’s prestigious Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from 1st July to 6th July, 2014, is the organisation’s premier public engagement event of the year, showcasing cutting-edge science and technology research in accessible and exciting ways.
Professor Daniel Mills and Helen Zulch, from the School of Life Sciences, and Dr Emile van der Zee from the School of Psychology, are partners in a project with The Open University. Their exhibit focusses on dog-friendly interactive technology used to support or enhance the performance of working dogs which help humans.
Increasingly dogs are humans’ trusted working partners in a wide range of important jobs, such as assisting disabled people, playing crucial roles in military operations, detecting and managing life-threatening medical conditions, or rescuing stranded and injured people.
The Open University Animal-Computer Interaction Lab is currently focussed on designing interactive technologies from a canine perspective. The exhibit will showcase prototypes of technologies such as an electronic light-switch designed for assistance dogs; an interface allowing cancer detection dogs to express levels of confidence when assessing biological samples; and an alarm system allowing medical alert dogs to summon help for their assisted humans. Dogs from research partners Dogs for the Disabled and Medical Detection Dogs will also demonstrate the technologies.
Professor Mills said: “This exhibit is a great example of truly interdisciplinary science that has a real impact on society. Dogs were the first species to be domesticated and their partnership with humans is unique. Our work shows how we can use modern technology to help maximise the potential of the partnership and the value that dogs can bring to society.”