Skype for Dogs

Sometimes the hardest thing about a business trip or even a vacation is missing your furry companions back home. This explains why some folks have experimented with using the video-conferencing service Skype to chat with their pups. The above video uploaded on January 11th became an instant hit, as it appears to show two pups “talking” to each other over web-cam.

A Fast Company investigation into the phenomenon found that dogs and cats don’t experience technology in the same way humans do:

Apart from obvious differences in paws and hearing, dogs experience the world in an entirely different way. Compared to humans, canines rely on their sense of smell for communication and interaction far, far more–and their sense of vision means they see a computer monitor or tablet screen far differently.

One special challenge for dogs is that the compressed audio of Skype makes it especially hard for them to hear the person or the animal on the other end of the line. There is also anecdotal evidence of the high-pitched connection noises on Skype making dogs uncomfortable, but this has not been verified by any academic literature.

In response to these differences, researchers Carman Neustaedter and Jennifer Golbeck are working on a service specifically designed for communication with pets. The video below displays the mixed prototype results. According to Neustaedter, “the dogs loved the sounds, but I was surprised that the motion on the screen was of almost no interest to the dogs.”

We hope they continue their research, as we know some folks around here who would definitely take advantage of the opportunity to interact with their pets while traveling. Have you ever tried video chatting with your pet?

Fido phone home?

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