Nov 12, 2015 | By Benedict

Owning dogs is brilliant, but leaving them at home during the workday can be both inconvenient for you and upsetting for your dog. We’ve all seen the panic in a four-legged friend’s eyes when they think we’re leaving the house forever! Unless you have a friendly neighbour with time on their hands, leaving your pet at home can cause both loneliness and feeding issues. Luckily, a team of creative thinkers has sought to provide answers to all of your daytime dog problems. Roboplan Technologies, a Tel Aviv based 3D printing and coding firm, has unveiled PlayDog, a 3D printed training game for dogs, designed specifically for stay-at-home canines. PlayDog is part puzzle, part feeding system, and provides exercise, feeding and play for your mutt.

The 3D printed game, which the company has described as “a smart game for smart dogs”, is an experimental product made with 3D printed parts and off-the-shelf electronic components. Users can print the 3D printable parts themselves, and either purchase an electronics kit from Roboplan or source their own hardware. The game, inspired by Pavlovian conditioning, is simple but effective. 3D printed “bases” are laid out around a user’s home in places accessible to the dog able. When it’s time for feeding, one of the bases starts to emit a beeping sound, encouraging the dog to approach it. When the dog successfully approaches the base, the next base starts beeping. The process is repeated, until the dog reaches the final base, which dispenses a treat for the dog when approached.

PlayDog provides a number of benefits. Not only does it provide a controlled method of feeding your dog at regulated intervals, it actively encourages your pooch to “figure out” the game, as well as keeping them exercised. The association of sound and food was the principle behind Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiment in the late 19th century. Pavlov’s lab dogs would instinctively salivate when presented with food by assistants. This came as no surprise to the psychologist. However, Pavlov also noticed that the dogs began to salivate upon seeing the assistants, regardless of whether they carried food or not, because of the association the dogs had built between the assistants and their food. Pavlov then began to ring a bell, much like PlayDog’s beeping 3D printed bases, whenever the dogs were to be fed. After a while, Pavlov tried ringing the bell without presenting food to the dogs and, lo and behold, the dogs would salivate anyway! They had been conditioned to associate the sound with food, and eventually salivated from the sound of the bell alone, just as if a juicy mutton chop were laid in front of them. The 3D printed PlayDog system essentially trains your dog to make similar associations, between the sounds of the 3D printed bases and the dispensed treats.

The files and code for PlayDog are freely available, and its makers encourage users to tweak the design as they see fit. The team hopes that the project will develop a community of users, who will share their tips and modifications for the benefit of all dog owners. Assembly time for the PlayDog depends on whether users decide to build the product from scratch or use the company’s available electronics kits. In either case, the 3D printing of parts will take around 15-20 hours. Those building from scratch will need another two and a half hours to etch, solder and assemble. Those who purchase the PlayDog PCB from the website can save an hour’s etching time, whilst those who buy the full kit will require just 30 minutes assembly time once the 3D printing is complete.

The 3D printable files for PlayDog are already available to download, with the PCB available to order. The kits are currently out of stock, but expect more soon. We expect PlayDog to be entertaining a host of happy hounds in no time at all.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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