Friday, March 26, 2010

Tech-ing It Too Far

By Brianne Harrison

Don’t get me wrong—I like technology. I appreciate all the things techy gadgets allow us to do now, like help find a missing dog quickly—but there are limits to my tech love, and in some pet-related areas, I think I’m starting to reach it.

On the good side, there’s this story of a man who used an iPhone app to find his 8-year-old lab Maise, who had escaped from the owner’s yard and disappeared, managing to rip off her collar in the process. Her owner, William Coxe, started by putting up flyers, and then a friend told him about a website called, which helps recover lost pets. Coxe accessed the site using an iPhone app, which, for a fee, also contacted 2,500 of his neighbors and left them a message with the dog’s description and Coxe’s contact info. The call finally reached the person who had Maise, and she was back home in under 2 hours. Now, that’s the power of technology!

But of course, as with anything, it can be taken a little too far. By fall, we should see not one but two gadgets out on the market that allow your dog to send tweets on Twitter. Yes, that’s right, soon your dog can spend its day tweeting away about all the fascinating things it’s doing, like sleeping and scratching behind its ear.

The first product due to be released is an iPhone app called Bowlingual. The app, which has already been released in Japan, claims to translate your dog’s barks using a special algorithm, essentially allowing your dog to “speak”. That translation can then be posted to Twitter so everyone knows your dog really wants its dinner. NOW.

The second product, which will be released by Mattel in the fall, is a tweeting dog collar known as Puppy Tweet. Put the collar on your dog and every time he or she moves, barks, or growls, it sends out a pre-programmed tweet (example: I bark because I miss you—there, now hurry home), allowing you to obsessively follow your dog’s every move throughout the day. Oh, and just in case we weren’t sure yet that dogs have become the new babies, the collar is available in two colors only: pink and blue.

Now, I love my dogs, but I don’t really feel the need to know what they’re doing every moment of the day. I know what they’re doing—sleeping, snoring loudly, and occasionally getting up to get some water to drink. Although at one point, for our own amusement, my fiancé and I dreamed up a rich fantasy life for our dogs that had them building a biplane while we were out of the house, I’m fairly sure that their lives are much duller than that. But hey, maybe my feelings just mean I don’t love them quite enough.

What do you think?

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