The 23 & Me craze has spilled into the animal kingdom for pet owners who want more info on their pet’s breed and medical predispositions. Companies such as Embark and AnimalBiome will gladly take your money to test your dog or cat’s dna. Is it worth it? Probably more for dog owners curious about their breed, but don’t spend too much.
A scientist looking at how dogs think and relate to humans has trained about a dozen dogs to lie inside of fMRI machines and receive different stimuli. The result is a look inside the minds of dogs that indicates that their mental processes might mirror our own in more ways than previously imagined.
A dog undergoes training, learning how to rest its head on a pad without moving, so that scientists can scan his brain. Photo by Helen Berns
As part of their first paper published on the work in 2012, they trained dogs to recognize two different hand signals: one that meant the animal would be given a piece of hot dog imminently, and one that meant no hot dog. As they hypothesized, the first signal triggered elevated activity in an area called the caudate nucleus, which is rich in receptors for dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved in the sensation of pleasure). In humans—and in dogs, the research indicated—caudate activity is related to the desire to have something that causes pleasure, and the satisfaction involved in obtaining it.
Subsequent tests showed that sensing familiar humans through sight and scent triggered similar reward receptors in dogs’ brains, possibly indicating the feeling of emotion similar to human emotion.
A dog in an fMRI, receiving one of the hand signals
Why it’s hot
Pet owners already think of their animal friends as more than simply property, and are more likely to consider them members of the family than in previous generations. If studies like these can show that dogs truly feel emotions similar to humans, it might have implications for public policy and cultural sentiment.
Pet care brand Pedigree and its partner charity Ampara Animal needed to drive foot traffic to animal shelters as part of the Pedigree Adoption Drive.
The brand partnered with shopping-centre electronics stores to create the Dog Channel, where the generic content displayed on the TV screens in-store was replaced with videos of dogs waiting to be adopted from a nearby shelter.
Alongside the footage was a message to customers that included the dogs’ names and encouraged people to visit the shelter. When the dogs on the screens found new homes, the display changed to indicate a successful adoption.
Why It’s Hot:
-Chimes with the brand’s quest to grow the pet ownership – and by extension the pet care market.
-It merged a digital activation with OOH in a pretty unusual and innovative way
This is the idea behind Nikon’s Heartography campaign in Asia. A Nikon camera strapped on Grizzler, “the world’s first canine photographer,” will take photos when the heart rate monitor on its strap detects that Grizzler’s heartbeats exceed its predefined baseline, which implies emotion.
Why It’s Hot: The “emotional” capture idea is fantastic. It really brings another level to personal experience, and a man’s best friend is a great conduit to demonstrate this idea. What if we had this kind of camera on ourselves? What would it capture through our heartbeats? This also shows a unique way wearables can be used beyond its initial role of just measuring and storing physical/movement data.
Nikon has been in a tough spot lately because people are turning to their smartphone/tablet devices to take photos as opposed to using digital point-and-shoot cameras. After all, who wants to carry around another thing?
Considering this, Nikon designed a camera for dogs. As crazy as it sounds, dogs can now take photos thanks to Nikon’s new device. “Nikon rigged up a gadget that can measure a dog’s heartbeat, and take a picture when its heartrate rises, triggering a camera strapped to the dog’s neck.” – Gabriel Beltrone
Why It’s Hot
Nikon is now competing with GoPro to appeal to dog owners. People want to connect with their dogs and this device will allow humans to see life through their dog’s eyes. Strange… but a neat idea!