SNIF: Social Networking In Fur

SNIF is a project from Noah Fields, Jonathan Gips, Philip Liang and Arnaud Pilpré at the MIT’s Physical Language Workshop, that builds on the function of pets as natural social devices. The system allows pet owners to interact through their pets’ social networks. The hardware can be unobtrusively affixed to pet accessories to augment pet-to-pet, pet-to-owner, and owner-to-owner interactions. SNIF devices aggregate environmental, social, and individual information that can be broadcast or addressed to other participating community members.

snifs[1].jpgScenario: Max puts the SNIF collar around Alia’s neck and attaches her new leash to it before going for a walk. LEDs on the collar start flashing when a dog approach, showing that a secured ID transfer occurs between the two collars. If the other dog starts barking, Max pushes the button “Incompatible” on the leash.

At the park, Max releases Alia’s leash. While the dog plays with the other dogs, her collar records the IDs of dogs she spends the most time with along with some information such as activity levels during the encounters.

When Max attaches the leash again, the information collected is transfered to the leash and updates the external SNIF server. On the way home, Max notices that the leash starts blinking red, indicating the presence of a dog, with whom Alia is not comfortable. He thus crosses the road to avoid a confrontation.

Back at home, Max checks on the SNIF website and learns about his dogs’ new friends through the profiles left by their owner. Later in the day, he notices that one of Alia’s friend, Sugar, just reached the park. Max met Sugar’s owner a couple of times, a woman who teaches French cooking, and Max has always wanted to learn how to make a good quiche lorraine. He grabs the leash and calls Alia for a walk.

PDF of the project.
Via Josh Rubin.