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SNIF Petworking

by Josh Rubin in Culture on 21 March 2005

SNIF, or Social Networking in Fur, is a project from John Maeda's Physical Language Workshop at the MIT Media Lab. The idea is built on the age old notion of petworking-- meeting people through your pets. In their own words: "SNIF presents a hardware/software architecture that aims to capture pet social networks and other pet-related information as pets and their owners explore their communities."

Unfortunately, Otis and Logan are a bit leash aggressive so I don't think this is something that would help our social lives very much. But it's a fascinating concept none the less. Check out a scenario after the jump.

via Modern Pooch

Excerpt from the CHI2004 Paper by Fields, Gips, Liang and Pilpré:

“Lola takes her dog Fifi for a walk. Before leaving the house, Lola puts her new SNIF collar around Fifi's neck and attaches her new leash to it. On their way to the park, Lola can see a dog and his owner coming towards them. LEDs on Fifi's collar start flashing, showing that a secured ID transfer occurs between the two collars. While approaching, the other dog sees Fifi and starts barking suddenly. Lola has to pull on Fifi's leash to avoid the fight, and walks past the other dog. She pushes the button 'Incompatible' on the leash and keeps walking.

At the park, Lola greets the other dog owners and releases Fifi's leash. Fifi goes to play with the other dogs, her collar recording the IDs of dogs she spends the most time with along with some additional information such as activity levels during the encounters. While Fifi is enjoying her time, Lola discusses with other dog owners.

After an hour, Lola calls Fifi. She attaches the leash again, which starts the transfer of information collected from the collar to the leash and updates the external SNIF server. On the way home, Lola notices that the leash starts blinking red, indicating the presence of another dog coming towards them, with whom Fifi is not comfortable. She anticipates the encounter and crosses the road to avoid a confrontation.

Back at home, Lola checks on the SNIF website and learns about her dogs' new friends through the profiles left by their respective owner. Later in the day, she notices that one of Fifi's friend, Sugar, just reached the park. Lola met Sugar's owner a couple of times, a woman who teaches French cooking, and Lola has always wanted to learn how to make a good terrine. 'Time for a walk', she said to herself, smiling as she grabs the leash and calls Fifi.”
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