People love their pets. Many people love their pets more than they love other people. Despite this unwavering affection, we’re still unable to communicate with them. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? Where do they want to go? Well we’re reaching a point where all of those questions may soon be answered.
You may or may not have seen the microchips that can be implanted into our animals for identification and lost and found purposes. An incision is made, and the rice-sized chip is embedded, usually in the animals back. When activated by a scanner, the microchip can identify an animal and help it get returned to it’s rightful owner. The chip is rather affordable at under $50. This tactic is great for stray animals found by the pound. For the most part it has been safe, although there have been a few instances of a tumor developing around the area of the implanted chips.
For those of us who prefer not to dice and robotify our pets, there is another option. A GPS dog collar attachment has been invented by Quallcomm subsidiary Snaptracs that not only tells us the exact coordinates of our furry friends, it can send a text or e-mail alert if Lassie strays away from a designated area. There is no word yet on the legality of using this on your teenager.
Now that we’re able to finally keep tabs on our best friends, we need to get to know them better, their thoughts, feelings and desires. Fujitsu has developed a smart collar that is similar to the performance Nike Fuel Band. A press release from Fujitsu stated that “By monitoring and recording the number of steps they take, as well as signs of shivering and external temperature information, the new device enables owners to stay informed about the dog’s regular activity levels, making it easy to detect any changes in their pet’s health.” When a smart phone is held near the device, recent data can be uploaded and interpreted by the owner. Now we’ll know if they’re tired, obese, or overworked.
The last major step is to tap directly into our pet’s mind for answers about their feelings. Scientists at Emory University have been studying MRI brain scans of dogs, hoping to get a better ideas of how hey perceive humans and other dogs, and how their thoughts compare to ours. Scientists were able to successfully predict brain activity resulting from a reward in the initial study. Neuroscientist Greg Burns believes that the research could “open a whole new type of research on cognition.”
Pets are no longer just companions, they’re a part of the family. We’re connecting with them on a deeper level than we ever thought possible. Aside from the obvious benefits, do you find any of this creepy? Can you foresee any unintended side effects? Will these types of technologies really be used on humans? What could the future hold?
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