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Soi Dogs to transform street mutts into high-tech watchdogs

PHUKET: A team at the renowned animal welfare charity Soi Dog Foundation, based in the northern half of Phuket, is pushing ahead with a project to transform unwanted – and often brutally mistreated – street dogs into a valuable “high tech” watchdogs to protect communities.

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By Shela Riva

Saturday 26 August 2017, 09:00AM


Together with a creative team at advertising agency Cheil Thailand, collaborators are developing a “smart vest” to take full advantage of dogs’ biologically bred sense of purpose and keen senses, with the hope of integrating them better into Phuket’s communities.

Leading the team, Pakornkrit Khantaprab explained to The Phuket News, “We’ve created a smart vest for stray dogs to turn them into ‘Watchdogs’. The vest will combine technology with dog instincts – such as barking, super senses and territorial behaviour.”

When the dog wearing the vest barks, a notification will be sent straight away to the people near the location where the dog is barking via 4G/WiFi, Mr Pakornkrit said.

Anybody with the mobile phone application the team has created can access the information and even view what the dog can see via a high-definition camera stitched into the vest, he added.

“Our app can distinguish between normal barking and furious barking. The sound waves are different,” Mr Pakornkrit explained.

“Technically, the camera can be accessed all the time but we can program it to activate only when the dogs are barking,” he said.

To prevent the camera being activated when the dogs are getting up to inappropriate “happier” things, Mr Pakornkrit said, “The sound waves would also be different. We have programmed it to detect only when they barking at something suspicious.”

Regarding the development of the vest itself, Mr Pakornkrit said, “The vest was created based on Raspberry Pi technology (a small single-board computer). We programmed it to detect when the dog is barking, then we linked it to a camera. After we finished with the mechanics we made sure the vest fits comfortably on most dogs.

“However right now, the vest is still under development. We did use it a couple of times to improve it, including when we filmed the video (announcing the project),” he added. The video is available on the Soi Dog Foundation’s Facebook page. (Click here.)

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Mr Pakornkrit says he thinks the biggest challenge for the project is to convince people that it is possible for stray dogs to become “Watchdogs”.

“However, we believe that there is no need for stray dogs to be trained to be ‘Watchdogs’. The only thing they need is love and care. Every dog is different and they are all unique but we believe that deeply inside, the ‘Watchdog’ is already in every dog,” he said.

The long-term aim of this project is to create a mutual relationship where communities and stray dogs can sustainably live together.

“Our aim is to get people to perceive stray dogs in a better way and ultimately, solve the stray dog issue in the long term. The stray dog issue is becoming more crucial in Thailand. This issue leads to a bigger problem of animal cruelty and dog meat trades- we do not want to see that,” Mr Pakornkrit explained.

Mr Pakornkrit said that he welcomes all feedback regarding the idea.

“We hope that people are going to like the idea, so that we have more confidence to develop it further,” he said.

“We think that stray dogs have the right to live in the place where they belong. There is no need for stray dogs to be kept in cages. The solution for stray dog issue is not in any animal shelter or government control.”

Regarding where in Thailand the team will launch the project, despite Soi Dog Foundation being based in Phuket, Mr Pakornkrit said, “We will be happy to launch this wherever the project is welcome.”

To contact Mr Pakornkrit email pakornkrit2531@gmail.com.

 

 

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Sue Yu2 | 30 August 2017 - 14:11:31

Hello? If you can't hear the dog barking madly then it must be some distance away. Mad dogs bark at mad things like motorbikes & people walking past that they take a dislike to. Ridiculous idea! Like a phone for totally deaf people or a reading lamp for the blind.

Rorri_2 | 29 August 2017 - 18:20:09

Yes, must be April fools day....again, these Rasberry Pi units use a minimum of 500mA at 5Vdc, now neglecting the necessary audio sampling, filtering and analyzing and different dogs have differing barks(level, tone etc), just who is going to change the batteries?

chris007 | 29 August 2017 - 17:19:19

Is it april fools day ? As john mcenroe would say " are you serious ? Some of the soi mutts i see would be better off meeting a good friend by the name of mr smith and mr wesson.

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