Designing an interactive olfactory robot for and with dogs.

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
New Media Design and Production
This thesis follows the development of Scent Bot, a smell-based enrichment and training device ecosystem for dogs. The device is designed for dogs to use independently. The sponsor of the project, Nose Academy Oy, gave the design brief. Through the choices made while developing the device, a dog-centric design approach emerges, which is discussed at length. Challenges such as those of linguistics and cognition that arise when designing for another species are mitigated through an iterative, multispecies participatory design process. In addition to differences in comprehension, differences in physiology, and ways of experiencing the world are key elements taken into consideration while designing. The interactions of the dog with the device are based on methods coming from ethology and animal training. The interactions were then tested with dogs and revised based on the test results in an iterative looping manner. The design method used in this thesis forwards the conversation around the involvement of animals in the design process while designing for animal-computer interactions. Such design methods can also be used to understand what participatory design can mean where user groups cannot give direct verbal feedback to the designers such as young children and others who are differently abled. The product finds use both in research related to canine olfaction and commercial applications. If launched now, Scent Bot will be the first commercially available automated olfaction-based interactive enrichment device for dogs in the world.
Leinonen, Teemu
Thesis advisor
Hirskyj-Douglas, Ilyena
Niinimäki, Matti
dog-centric design, interspecies participatory design, olfactory enrichment device, canine robot, designing with dogs, scent training, nosework