The Social Networking in Fur, or SNIF, project is a wearable computer system for dogs that allows their owners to monitor the animals’ behavior and capture their social networks.
The technology, designed by a group of researchers at MIT’s Physical Language Workshop, also gives dog owners the chance to "petwork," or network through their pets.
The system consists of a technologically enhanced collar, leash and wall-mounted leash-docking station. In prototype now, the system will be linked to a web-based community containing information about pets in the program and their owners.
The collar and leash have an LED display and a variety of sensors for recording climatic conditions, the pet’s activity levels and the presence of other dogs equipped with SNIF collars.
When out for a walk, the canine’s collar flashes a unique "collar tone" that provides its social network ID to other doggies’ SNIF collars. Then a secure ID transfer takes place.
Owners can record their dog’s reactions to each other by pressing "negative" or "positive" buttons on the leash. When released to play with a group, the dog’s collar records the IDs of pets that it has spent the most time with, along with the corresponding activity level. The collar relays the data to the leash when reattached.
The leash then uploads the information to a SNIF server. On the website, pet owners can learn about their dogs’ new friends through profiles created by their owners.