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Digital innovation for working dogs – Presented by Dr Mia Cobb

The use of smart technologies in industries reliant on animals is growing rapidly. From applications such as precision livestock farming, drones for remote animal guidance, wearable technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, to animal-computer interaction, various opportunities to support our working dogs exist through digital innovation. Our understanding of the implications of these technologies for human physical and mental wellbeing is new, and is far less advanced for animals. Working dog performance and welfare can be impacted, both positively and negatively, by these interspecies technologies. This presentation will provide an overview of emerging digital technologies and their implementation relating to animals. An animal-centered approach to the design process for digital innovation will be described, including consideration of individual animals, operational goals, context constraints, and opportunities to improve working dog welfare. Assessment of the opportunities and risks of digital innovation for animals will be presented in relation to people’s attitudes toward technologies, including attention to how this may shape our future relationships with working dogs. The importance of a strong cross-disciplinary approach with researchers and practitioners working closely to innovate in collaboration will be highlighted for this exciting and swiftly progressing field.

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