September 4, 2017 12:05 pm
Updated: September 4, 2017 2:02 pm

New ‘smart vest’ hopes to turn stray dogs into heroes

ABOVE: Could stray dogs be used to help keep the neighbourhood safe?

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Meet the four-legged furry friends chosen to test run a prototype ‘smart vest’ which could turn stray dogs into heroes by spotting potentially unfriendly strangers and other dangers within a community.

Creators from a South Korean-based advertising agency Cheil, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, hope the ‘smart vest’ wearing canines will inspire people in Thailand, where the project is being tested, to view street dogs in a positive light rather than as a nuisance.

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“We think that the stray dogs aren’t going to be that different (to a house dog). We wanted to come up with a tool that would show the benefits of these dogs and make (people) feel that stray dogs can be night-watchers, so that’s where the idea of making them watchdogs for communities came from,” said creative team member Pakornkrit Khantaprap.

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A hidden camera is attached to the collar of a dog’s vest and activated when its sensors detect aggressive barking noises, sending a live streaming video of what the dog saw in front of them to a central location.

“Our philosophy at work is to show how creativity and technology can be used together to help solve problems for the people or society,” said Satit Jantawiwat, Chief Creative Officer at Cheil.

Martin Turner, a managing director of the Phuket-base Soi Dog Foundation, a group formed over a decade ago to save street dogs and cats in Thailand, welcomed the initiative idea but deemed the vests to be in an early “trial and error” stage.

“It’s too early a stage to actually say how practical the vests are. We really don’t know how they’re going to work, if they’re going to work properly, if the camera angles that we, camera shots, angles that we get are going to be correct?” Turner told Reuters.

“So, it’s going to be trial and error. We’re also going to be on a steep learning curve at the start and then we will iron out differences as we move forward.”

The project began in March 2017 and the Cheil company says there will be more development before the project is introduced for a full trial run in the community.

© 2017 Reuters

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