Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dog Cam

You get up out of your chair, and your dog is watching you. Are you going to feed him or take him for a walk? He studies your every move.

What is he looking at? Is he watching your hands to see if you’re reaching for the leash, or your eyes to see where you’re looking? Does he look over at his dog bowl or at the door?

And what happens if you take him for a walk and he sees a female dog? Does he look at her the same way we would?

According to this week’s Science magazine, a team of U.S., Dutch, and Belgian researchers have developed an eye tracking device called a “DogCam” to see what a dog actually looks at when it studies the subtle cues of its owner and its surroundings.

Graduate student Alejandra Rossi at Indiana University in Bloomington says the wireless device uses three cameras: one to capture the dog’s eye view of the world, and two others to track where each eye is looking within that visual field.

Other scientists are conducting eye tracking studies to try to understand how the visual behavior of chimpanzees differs from that of humans. One early observation is that humans tend to look more at faces, while chimps look more at other parts of the body.

So if we know where dogs or apes are looking, can we tell what they're thinking? Not yet, unless we can add further lines of evidence, such as a simultaneous brain scan. The ability to infer cognitive states in non-human animals based on eye tracking data alone is still a rather uncertain prospect. But I'd love to take a dog with an Eye Cam into an art museum...

Courtesy of Science magazine and Indiana University’s cognitive science program.
Chimp vs. Human scanpaths courtesy Kyoto University
Eye tracking studies in comparative cognitive science


Unknown said...

My Belgium brings another important contribution to science :-).

kat said...

How thoroughly wonderful. It would be very interesting to know what visual cues they use to identify each other and other species in the absence of olfactory or auditory cues.

I'd love to do this with squirrels. They're extremely communicative, delightful little animals, much like tiny dogs. They come when they're called and bond with humans if you raise one. They introduce their mates and babies to you, thus establishing a culture of sorts, and one can be incorporated into squirrel society for generations. They know when you recognize them as individuals. They will only approach if you indicate that you know who they are.

Recent studies show that bees and corvids can recognize individual human faces. Corvids use their beaks for pointing and communicate their knowledge of humans who impinge upon their lives to each other.

How I wish I could understand the language of the animals! What they would say about us...

Unknown said...

I personally would love to know what my 2 dogs look at.

Btw, I'm reading your book "Color and Light" at the moment, and I really have to say it's great, also I literally devoured "Imaginative Realism" and it's been hugely inspiring. I kinda re-started seriously drawing after a few years (I stopped for stupid reasons) and your books are real gifts. THANKS JAMES!

This are my blog and youtube channel:

If one lucky day you'd leave a comment that would be AWESOME.


Jessica H said...

I was just wondering if you knew the breed(s) of that pretty black dog with the glasses on. My dog was a rescue, but she looks very similar, down to the smattering of white hairs on her snout. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the new discoveries we're making about how animals see the world. They're more like us than anyone ever realized. Apparently even wasps have the human-like ability to recognize each other by facial structure.

Anonymous said...

good information shared by you.Thanks for this nice article.