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Digital technologies improving human-animal relationships


Humans are amazingly adaptable and versatile beings. While humans perceive themselves to be technologically advanced, we may have lost learning opportunities by overlooking and misunderstanding the different ways of knowing and being that animals have. In 1984 George Orwell foresaw technology enabling us to monitor our property, possessions and children.

We see humans advantaged by technology, yet still rely heavily on animals, to contribute to and fulfil our lives.
UniSQ's research is focused on applied animal computer interaction and provides some exciting insights on how we can apply these technologies across the broader community.

Dogs have been trained to provide support to people who are vision or hearing impaired, by acting in a particular manner.

Have we considered how we could reverse the scenario, so we supported animal impairment?

UniSQ researchers are doing just that. The technology we take for granted in a fast changing digital world, is being reconsidered within the parameters of technologies of care for working with animals.

There is a lot of discussion about the rights of animals as sentient beings – meaning that they are living creatures that perceive and have sensory consciousness. Why should a dog that is vision impaired, not be able to access the same support by a human, that would be given to a human from a service dog?

UniSQ researchers are exploring the relationships between animals, humans and computer technology and although it’s not all about the gadgets, there is some pretty exciting news on the horizons for pet-lovers.

Australia is home to over 25 million pets.
RSPCA 2016

A wearable device or an app on your smart phone, could allow you to communicate or check in on or your animal while you’re at work. The opportunities are endless, however UniSQ researchers are working to ensure these potential interactions are well-informed and underpinned by principles of respect for animals.

The research focuses on applied animal computer interaction and provides some exciting insights on how we can apply these technologies across the broader community. Imagine the economic and time benefits to the agricultural industry, if farmers could easily monitor stock welfare remotely. 

At a time when the Australian government is working with industry and State and Territory bodies to establish an agreed set of principles and practices for the Model Codes of Practice for Animal Wellbeing and Ethical Treatment of Animals, UniSQ’s research efforts could provide future tangible benefits to address ongoing concerns with animal welfare in Australia. Zoos can also stand to benefit from the outcomes of UniSQ research, by adopting digital technologies into their duty of care for animal welfare.

Combining the expertise of animal behaviourists, scientists and digital researchers, UniSQ is shaping the world of tomorrow for humans and animals alike.

Shaping the world of tomorrow 

UniSQ’s research balances humanity and animal sensibilities and demonstrates potential to impact on the application of digital technologies working with re-training and rehabilitation of problem behaviours in animals, or with dogs detecting cancer cells, alerting diabetics to lowering blood sugar levels and epileptic seizure service dogs.

These technologies could one day be broadened to other nurture-dependant beings, such as special needs patients, the elderly population and people with autism.

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