Talking Vest Could be Wave of Future for Service Dogs

Melody Jackson has two passions, computer science and training assistance dogs, and when those come together, the possibilities are endless.

Melody Jackson, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed technology that is giving dogs a voice, an ability she says is crucial for search and rescue, bomb detection and therapy dogs. The dogs wear vests equipped with sensors that can send either audible cues or text notifications to a smartphone.
Melody Jackson, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed technology that is giving dogs a voice, an ability she says is crucial for search and rescue, bomb detection and therapy dogs. The dogs wear vests equipped with sensors that can send either audible cues or text notifications to a smartphone (Photo: WTVR)

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Melody Jackson has two passions, computer science and training assistance dogs, and when those come together, the possibilities are endless. Jackson, who has a PhD from Georgia Tech, has created a vest that allows a dog to specify items or actions by biting or nudging special sensors on the sides of the vest.  The applications for this technology are huge.

In an interview with CNN, Jackson has been working with her research team on a project called “Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations,” or FIDO, for short.  Sponsored by The National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the vest has been approved by Jackson’s own border collie, 8-year-old Sky.

“He actually has helped us design a lot of these sensors, by telling us what works and what doesn’t work, so, he’s sort of our first line of testing before we go out to the rest of the world. He’s a very critical part of our design team,” Jackson told CNN.

The applications from working with bomb-sniffing dogs who could relay the type of bomb involved in the situation to medical alert dogs that could contact 911 to personal dogs that assist with challenge individuals and could signify the kind of sound, an alarm vs. a doorbell, among other abilities, is tremendous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVUkIkfyqFU

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