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Far Out Tech

You Can 'Steer' Your Dog With This Device

You Can 'Steer' Your Dog With This Device
Image credit: Auburn University
The trained canine, Major, with the sensor pack.

Far Out Tech

It seems like every other day we read about some far-out, new technology that makes us scratch our heads and say, "What the heck?" In this series, we'll take a look at all types of crazy new gadgets, apps and other technologies -- and the entrepreneurs dreaming them up.

You've already trained Fido to sit, stay, fetch and roll over. But what if, for some crazy reason, you needed Fido to do something but you were unable to give him verbal commands?

It's something researchers at Alabama's Auburn University are working on. Mechanical engineers Jeff Miller and David Bevly have developed a device they say can help dogs "hear" commands that are delivered electronically by a human with a controller.

The device is a pack worn on the back of a dog that consists of a microprocessor, wireless radio, GPS receiver and something called an "attitude and heading reference system," according to a report in gizmag. A command module on the pack delivers vibrational and audio tone cues that the dog has been trained to respond to.

While something like this might be a bit much for the family dog, it could someday be useful for canines used in rescue missions where voice commands aren't possible or by police for drug busts and other types of arrests.

"An eventual goal of the work would be to not only guide the canine to a predetermined location, but also to be able to recognize when a canine detects something of interest," Miller and Bevly wrote in their 160-page dissertation on the device. "For example, the canine could demonstrate some known response (walking in a circle or sitting down) upon detecting narcotics."

Tests of the device show accuracy of obedience of almost 87 percent, gizmag says.

Development is still under way. But I want to know: Will this someday steer Fido to retrieving my lost socks and morning paper with nothing more than a click of a remote control? Hands down that'd be cooler than robotic cockroaches, right?

What crazy apps and gadgets have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at FarOutTech@entrepreneur.com or by telling us in the comments below.
 

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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