GOOGLE: This Talking Doogler Deserves A Round Of A-Paws

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Michelle Budzyna

Contributor, The Keyword

Ever wonder what your dog is thinking? It’s not unusual to wonder what your dog is thinking. Dog “talking” buttons are a phenomenon that has taken the pet world by storm over the past year. Dogs can now tell their owners what they need with the push of a button. Dog owners all over the world are encouraged to get a set of buttons for their amazing vocabulary. Rutledge Chin Feman is a Google Nest software engineer. He suggested that dog owners build their own versions.

” Rutledge says Cosmo is the “best dog in the world”. He and his wife, Cosmo, adopted Cosmo, a German Shepherd-mix dog and their first dog. He was very fearful of all things and would bark and lunge at people. It was kind of a forcing function to learn a lot about positive reinforcement training techniques and desensitization…which is how I stumbled on all of this.”

After Rutledge saw a video of dog-talking buttons that blew his mind, he started to build his own set for Cosmo — the perfect hobby to blend his passions for engineering and animals. He used an electronic prototyping board (a breadboard) to hold the buttons and a small computer (a Raspberry Pi) to activate them with sound, light and notifications. Rutledge recorded his first model from a wooden winebox. It had three buttons: “Food”, “Water” and “Outside.” Cosmo now has seven buttons, with “ball”, “later,” and “love you” added.

A hand is holding up a rectangular wooden box, featuring dark-colored buttons and multicolored wires.

Using a wine box and a “breadboard,” a prototyping board for electronics, Rutledge created his own set of dog “talking” buttons.

Cosmo puts his paw on a wooden box with three, white buttons. He is accompanied by a person wearing a black top and pants.

Cosmo’s first board featured three buttons: “food,” “water” and “outside.”

A rectangular wooden board with three white buttons, two blue buttons and two green buttons. Underneath each button is “food,” “water,” “outside,” “love you,” “scritches,” “ball” and “later.”

Cosmo’s board now features seven buttons, including his favorite — “scritches” (belly rubs).

At one point, Rutledge even set the board up so that he received text messages whenever Cosmo pressed a button. “I’ve been in meetings when I’m like, “Hold on, I need my phone to silence.” My dog is blowing me up right now.’”

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Rutledge and his wife will add a “baby” button to Cosmo’s board next, now that their newest family member has arrived. Rutledge already sees the future. “It will only take a few months before baby can push buttons and ask for food or anything else. I think that will be a fun experiment.”

For now, he’s focused on Cosmo and continuing to strengthen their bond using the button board. It’s a powerful way to get to know your pet. It reminds you of how intelligent your pet is and the way they can think. And they’re constantly observing their world in a way that we don’t usually really give them credit for.”

“It’s a really simple device, it’s all just for fun,” he adds of the process. “And obviously, Cosmo’s a very good boy.”

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