Canine-centered interface design: supporting the work of diabetes alert dogs

Robinson, Charlotte; Mancini, Clara; van der Linden, Janet; Guest, Claire and Harris, Rob (2014). Canine-centered interface design: supporting the work of diabetes alert dogs. In: ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 26 Apr - 01 May 2014, Toronto, Canada, ACM, pp. 3757–3766.



Many people with Diabetes live with the continuous threat of hypoglycaemic attacks and the danger of going into coma. Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to detect the onset of an attack before the human handler they are paired with deteriorates, giving them time to take action. We investigated requirements for designing an alert system allowing dogs to remotely call for help when their human falls unconscious before being able to react to an alert. Through a multispecies ethnographic approach we focus on teasing out the requirements for a physical canine user interface, involving both dogs, their handlers and trainers in the design. We discuss tensions between the requirements for the canine and the human users, argue the need for increased sensitivity towards the needs of individual dogs that goes beyond breed specific physical characteristics and reflect on how we can move from designing for dogs to designing with dogs.

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