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Jaw Jabbler // Interactive Dog Toy and Interspecies Communication Interface
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I am proposing to create a series of fully functioning interactive dog toy and communication interfaces that allow domesticated dogs to utilize their mouth (via pressure) as a form of communication both audibly and tangibly with humans through a custom made toy interface. The tentative title for this series of objects is “Jaw Jabblers”. The proposed series is comprised of three toys that have distinctly different purposes: service, productive play (mobile drawing device), and discourse exchange. These devices will look and feel like traditional dog toys (with a more contemporary design in mind) and can be made in either a soft circuited version or a more traditional rubber cast for durability.
Each toy will be embedded with a wireless circuit that allows the various nodules of the toy to be reprogrammed easily via an accompanying app by the owner, to produce custom sounds for their dog,The dog will activate these sounds by squeezing on the various ends of the toy that are marked with different textures, length, and material, depending on the model chosen. These toys will be created using an arduino teensy, accompanying bluetooth module for easy wireless programming, flexible fabric based speakers, and various types of soft circuit pressure sensors, with the dog’s safety at the forefront of the project. These toys could be easily produced with a very small budget using open source software (arduino and processing), 3D printing for replication, and fabric based designs that can easily be sewn. All electronics within these devices are hobby tools and are easily available online from amazon or adafruit and are easily assembled.
I am proposing an intensive continuation of a prototyped interface that I have been working on intermittently. This interface has required wireless technology, affordable and DIY circuitry, and 3D printing to become available to a wider range of artists, makers, and inventors (and is now possible in the year 2014-2015 and beyond). I am proposing this project because from a service stand point and training tool, these objects could be of great use for a larger community of people beyond a play based market. I need the support of a development professional or team to realize this project in its full scope. I have made a previous prototype version of this idea (full prototype report found below), primarily falling under the play category, nearly 5 years ago. I want to push the development of this project now that technology is available to make this a readily accessible tool and toy. The interactive dog toy market is stale and only begins to tap what it truly means to produce an object that is interactive, inventive, and useful for another species. Probing the lines between human and various animal communications has been an interest of mine for quite some time through my own research and artistic practice which are evident in my online portfolio (brittanyransom.com).
Jaw Jabbler For Play: Re-programmable sounds and drawing device
In this version of the toy, each of the nodules can be custom programmed to suit the dog’s particular interests / tastes in play sounds. Anything from the traditional squeaky toy sound to custom recorded sounds can be embedded into the circuit and played via a soft flexible speaker housed safely within the toys frame. Also embedded in this toy would be an accelerometer that would track the dog’s head movements. This portion of the toy would allow the dog’s movements to be mapped out via the app to allow the dog to make its own drawings for its owner. This application could be easily made using This functions both as a mechanism to record play and to also a way to create, record, and print custom artwork from your dog’s play patterns.
2 + 3 Jaw Jabbler for Communication and Service
In this version of the toy, each of the nodules could be custom programmed so that the dog is able to communicate with its human companion(s). This interface will primarily serve as a means to program each “nodule” of the toy wirelessly so that the dogs can learn a language by squeezing the toy to communicate with their human counterpart. Ideally this toy would be developed as a service tool first and an object of daily communication second. The end goal would be a toy/interface that is re-programmable with a cell phone to allow dogs to communicate by learning different signaling / squeezing patterns to ask for things or respond to query from humans. This interface could also easily be applied to teach service animals or allow them to communicate and collaborate with humans more efficiently. This toy could be used for differently abled humans who have dog companions
In a previous prototyped version, I created this toy using all soft circuitry by hacking an already existing wiimote (see video here: https://brittanyransomwebsite.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/interactopus-2010/). I have since been developing 3D models to create rubber molds to house the electronic interfaces within. With
the advent of the Teensy arduino, and the possibility of wireless programming and soft speakers, I now feel that all of the tools are within an obtainable reach for me to complete a functioning prototype of this idea and test it with service animals as well as secondary play versions with both service animals and domestic dogs. The main goal is to be able to teach Dogs a wide language through an instinctual function (squeezing with their mouth) that is natural to them. In the previous version, the sound was dissociated from the toy (played from a computer) rather than housed within which made training difficult. I am now ready to continue to more
involved steps for this project and need time, resources, and a creative peer group to do so.