My name is Ceara and I’m a fifth year PhD student in Computer Science at Georgia Tech. I’m a designer and developer who believes in creating things around empathy before everything be it physical or digital. I use a data-driven approach to develop products that put people and their needs first. I have a masters in both Industrial Design (ID) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from Georgia Tech. My PhD research focuses on instrumenting dog toys with various sensors for measuring computational ethograms of behavior. With these computational ethograms we are better able to understand aspects of working dog temperament and behavior, and as funding for these centers mainly come from donations, programs can more efficiently use their funding to train more working dogs or create new programs that can benefit individuals with disabilities.
In the Animal Computer Interaction (ACI) lab, I create and study technologies that improve communication between working dogs, such as dogs trained for search and rescue, and their handlers. In particular, my research focuses on improving the outcomes of service and working dog training. Not all dogs that go into these training programs as puppies have the temperament to become successful assistance and working animals. However, it is very difficult to determine if a dog has a temperament suitable for a service or working animal early on in life. That is where my research comes in. In my work, I investigate how aspects of canine temperament can be detected from interactions with sensors, often placed inside of dog toys that I design and build. After running tests where dogs interact with these sensors, I develop models that use sensor data to predict the success of assistance dogs in advanced training.