Wearable tech might be on the way out as fast it came in but for one segment of the population it might be something worth fetching. Fetching in the sense of dogs. There's a new vest for service dogs that has GPS, can call 911 and can talk back like Siri.
The vest's lead inventor is Dr. Melody Jackson, director of the Center for BioInterface Research at Georgia Tech. She is heading up a project called The FIDO Project. FIDO stands for Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations.
The idea behind the project is to expand on what the service dog already can do. The vest will have little sensors on it that dogs will self-activate by doing what they would normally do, like pulling or biting something in order to perform a task.
There are a variety of uses for the vests. Dogs are trained for many things -- for example, to help people who get seizures. Normally these dogs are trained to push people up against a wall if they have a seizure so they don't fall. "But what if the dog could also activate a tug sensor that would use the owner's cellphone to dial 911 and summon help?" Dr. Jackson said.
Search and rescue dogs can sniff for hours but if the dog was able to activate a GPS sensor on its vest it could continue its tracking and at the same time its handler would know exactly where it was at all times via the GPS sensor.
Usually when the search and rescue dogs find the person they are looking for they go back to their handlers and lead them to what they found but what if the dog was able to stay with the person as a comfort and the GPS tracker could tell the handler and emergency crew exactly where the target was via the GPS?
Imagine a hearing-impaired person who can’t hear a tornado siren warning but his service dog can and then the service dog sets off an alert on his pack with a flashing light to let the hearing impaired person know to go to the basement for cover.
Probably the biggest issue right now is battery life — a problem affecting most portable devices, because battery technology hasn’t kept pace as gadgets get smaller and more widely used.