This Project's

Research Team



External Collaborators

  • Mr Duncan Edwards
  • Ms Helen McCain

Domestic Interfaces for Assistance Dogs

Theme: Animal-Computer Interaction
Funding Agency: Dogs for the Disabled
Period: April 2013 -

This project explores ways of allowing assistance dogs to participate in the design of canine-friendly interfaces for domestic appliances.

Assistance dogs are trained to operate a range of domestic devices such as washing machines, light switches and door handles on a daily basis. However these devices are designed for humans and present canine users with considerable usability challenges from an ergonomic and cognitive perspective. This makes the training of assistance dogs difficult, slow and costly, limiting the number of disabled people who are able to receive help from these dogs. Furthermore, the environments that assistance dogs are required to negotiate make their daily life unnecessarily challenging, affecting their welfare and shortening their service life.

Rethinking the relation between function and design in everyday objects, and integrating pervasive computing capabilities into canine-friendly design concepts, the project aims to reconfigure domestic interfaces from the dog’s point of view. Consistent with ACI’s user-centred approach to research, a key aspect of the project is identifying ways in which the dogs themselves can be involved in the design process and ‘tell’ researchers how they want to be supported, so that what is being designed really works for them.

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