Hi! We are a group of students from the FIDO project and our goal today is to inform you guys and to hopefully get some of you interested in joining the our. Freshmen students at tech can stay committed long term and really stand to gain from this fun research. This project needs a diverse group of students from all majors and does not require any advanced course work. That’s why you guys are perfect. We’re gonna walk you through exactly what FIDO does.
Melody Jackson, an associate professor at Georgia Tech, professor Thad Starner and research scientist Clint Zeagler, have been working together on a project called FIDO (Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations). They have been doing research on how dogs can communicate different phrases by activating sensors on a vest. The dogs are trained to identify sounds, objects, or situations in order to inform people in need.
In order to fully participate in everyday life, many people with disabilities use a service dog. Service dogs already know what their job is in order to help their person in need and once you add the easy to learn FIDO vest, they can execute their job better by being able to communicate with their owner and people nearby.
How they learn.
Dogs learn from us through a process called conditioning. There are two types of conditioning: classical and operant. Classical conditioning is responsible for involuntary responses. For example, when a dog salivates when a food is put in front of them. Operant conditioning is responsible for voluntary responses. For example, a dog sitting for a treat. The type of training used most in training service dogs is operant conditioning because this type of training shapes a dog’s voluntary behavior. In the FIDO project, it is important to teach the dog to reach and grab the specific points on the vest in order to talk; however, this can only be taught by positive reward training and aversive dog training. We can change a dog’s behavior by adding or taking away a reward stimulus. Most dogs are very food motivated and in the FIDO project you can see how effective it is as the longest time it took for one of their dogs to learn the vest was 30 minutes.
Accomplishments thus far
So far with their research and experiments, Jackson and her associates have made tremendous progress and have been successful in teaching the dogs how to distinguish between different objects, sounds, and situations. The dogs have been trained to communicate for certain reasons by using a push or a pull. For example, if the trainer asks the dog to “ask for help,” the dog is able to activate the vest to alert anyone in the area that someone is in need of help. The dogs are very smart and it took one of them only 27 seconds to figure out how to activate the vest! With progress like this, who knows how far this technology could go!
We have been doing special things at FIDO; I don’t think anyone can deny that. We have some spectacular goals on the scientific level and, in terms of practicality, our goals are outstanding by any measure. Firstly, we want to further the research of how dogs learns and truly understand the breadth of their learning capabilities. Thus far, they have been able to understand short commands and simple questions, but researchers have been asking can that go further. We want to decrease vest learning times for the dogs. 27 seconds was the shortest time for a dog to understand how the vest worked, but we are trying to increase usability for all service dogs, not just the best of the best. We also want to increase our team with freshmen in order to finish the FIDO project and make it available for all service dogs and people in need! We want freshmen because we want young fresh minds that will be willing to stick with this project for years to come as you go through your time here at Tech.
How you can join.
Joining is simple. First, go to http://www.research.gatech.edu/ and find the project page for Dogs at Tech. Once you find it, contact one of the research heads and ask if you can join. As long as you are interested, we want you to help! We are looking for a diverse group of students and majors to increase interest for research on campus.
For our revision, we got back together and decided that it was necessary for us to include a video of some sort of our presentation because our presentation was such a huge part of our project as a whole. Our entire intention was to recruit, and that is best done through given presentation. By not putting any sort of presentation on our website, we showed a lack of rhetorical awareness, so we fixed that by putting up a video of our prezi and us orally presenting it. On top of this revision, we also failed to portray the purpose of our presentation as well as we meant to when we did not really push for recruitment the entire time through our script and presentation, so that needed a little revising. We altered the script so that we really push our argument to join our cause as much as possible all the way through. We also added a small piece at the beginning to make sure the audience knows why we are there, and then they can continue to see that throughout the presentation. Along with the script, we also added to the Prezi to make it go more with our argument and explain our argument more clearly. I am really happy that we were able to revise this piece in particular because I feel like it had so much potential, but I think we fell a little short, and we were not quite able to perfect our argument and our presentation. I feel like our revision really helped improve our project from what it was.