Meet Sniff The Digital Dog

In case all dogs will extinguish, interaction designers Karolina Sobecka and Jim George have a solution. They’ve created Sniff, a brilliant lifelike projection of a dog in a storefront window. Sniff is able to interact with people by changing his behavior based on the state of engagement with the viewer. A computer system tracks movements and gestures of passers-by and lets the dog dynamically respond.

“As you walk down the street you are approached by a dog. He is on his guard trying to discern your intentions. He will follow you and interpret your gestures as friendly or aggressive. He will try to engage you in a relationship and get you to pay attention to him.”

Sniff keeps track of the attitude of the viewer and forms a relationship with them over time based on the history of interaction, creating a scene in which virtual and real emotions mix up. Sobecka describes her project as “an exploration of engagement of two different planes of understanding, and of relationships created by body’s presence in an environment”. The installation is created with Unity3d Game Engine which renders the dog and makes it change its behavior based on tracking data. Passers-by and their behavior are monitored with an infrared-sensitive camera in front of the display windows, whereby “big actions are interpreted as threatening and slow actions directed at the dog (…) are interpreted as friendly”.

The video below shows how Sniff interacts with the viewer. For the geeks: this video demonstrates how the software interprets behavior of passers-by and how it makes the dog instantly react.