‘Dug The Dog’ Debuts At U Of I Engineering Open House

university of illinois students

From left to right, University of Illinois students Amanda Maher, Jessica Austriaco, Matthew De Venecia, and Bliss Chapman test out the "Dug the Dog IRL" machine-learning technology they created for the 2019 Engineering Open House.

Angela Kerndl/Illinois Public Media

Students at the University of Illinois developed a new project called “Dug the Dog IRL,” inspired by the Pixar movie “Up.” The prototype that will be on display allows their dog Alma to talk.

The prototype uses 3-D printed electrodes to tune in to a dog’s brain activity and applies machine learning techniques to associate the signal with a stimulus. When a stimulus is recorded by the electrodes, the dog’s feelings trigger a speaker to play a vocal recording, allowing the dog to “talk.”

"Hi my name’s Alma, and I am so excited to meet you, and I love my master so much and I am very happy at the moment and life is wonderful,” said Alma, according to the "Dug the Dog IRL", interpretation during a demonstration.

In response to seeing a treat, the prototype gave Alma's response as: “Treat, treat, yes I want the treat. I so definitely want the treat. I would be very happy to have the treat.”

The "talking dog" prototype will be on display at the U of I Engineering Open House Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm in the atrium of Everitt Laboratory in Urbana.

Bliss Chapman, one of the students who worked on this project, said this technology could be used for improving communication with other species, expanding our understanding of animal behavior.

Chapman and his colleagues said they hope it will inspire younger students who come to the open house.

Story source: WILL