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Vibrating dog vest lets you communicate with your dog without saying a word

A new vibrating haptic dog vest is designed by scientists
© Ben-Gurion University - Youtube

The haptic vibrating vest may let owners communicate with their dogs without actually speaking to them by remotely sending the dog a painless tremor to his body.

By Dawn Parrish, 13 Jul 2019

Haptic refers to any technology involving the sense of touch. This haptic vest, which simulates the senses of motion and touch is equipped with 4 vibrating motors which communicate by giving tactile, vibrational, remote commands to the working dog. This new technology can be helpful to deliver remote commands to working canines, to assist disabled handlers, for use in search and rescue situations, and other service dog applications, allowing the dogs to carry out their jobs better than ever before.

How does the vibrating dog vest work?

Basically, the haptic vest is an off-the-shelf mesh dog harness, fitted with four small vibrating motors and equipped with communication gear. The vest weighs only a negligible, one pound. The motors are positioned over the dog’s sides and back and emit varying, painless vibrations depending on the handler’s commands. The dog can be working at a distance away with the commands given by a handheld wireless control, affecting the dog’s different body locations and length of the vibration.

haptic vibrating dog vest
©Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Youtube

Ultimate goal of the vibrating vest

This high-tech equipment will allow working dogs to carry out tasks that humans and robots are not able to. Trained working dogs are capable of helping the physically challenged, locating buried survivors, and sniffing out bombs and explosives. In many circumstances when working, the dog cannot always see or hear the commands that their handler gives. The haptic vest relays gentle, vibrational prompts to the dog, assisting him in carrying out his important duties.

New device tested only on one dog so far

The vibrating vest, designed by Israeli scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is being presented to Tokyo’s World Haptics Conference. So far, only Tai, a 6-year-old Labrador and German shepherd crossbreed dog has tested this new device. In a demonstration video, Tai can be seen responding to various commands, such as “To Me”, “Down” and “Spin”. This is an initial first trial, and further studies need to be carried out using different canines. The design team may also add further refinements to the vibrating vest.

Domestic uses for the haptic vest

Although this vibrating harness has been designed with working dogs in mind, there are also other possible functions to assist household pets. It may also help dogs that are hard of hearing or help pet owners who have speech impairments. It would also allow handlers to call and direct their dogs from a fair distance away.

Further planned research will certainly open the way for the use of vibrating vests to enhance human to dog communication.