from the June 2008 issue

New technology Interprets dog barks to prevent prison breaks

When your dog barks, it may be trying to tell you something. That belief is tied to Israeli jails using a custom-built computer program called DogGuard that interprets a guard dog's barks.

Bio-Sense Technologies created the system to notify the prison staff when dogs were barking because of suspicious activity, i.e. prisoners trying to escape. It involves a sensor, placed on a wall or fence within a 15-yard radius of the dog, which can determine a dog's stress based on the sound of its bark. If an emergency is detected by a bark, an alarm sounds in the prison's control room.

"It collects the dogs' barks through microphones.and sorts and grades them," explained Noam Tavor, head of the Israel Prisons Service canine unit. "It relays only the barks that are significant in terms of security-barks that reveal stress or aggression in the dog."

Using dogs as a means of patrolling a prison's fences initially wasn't an efficient system: "The dogs would bark, and staff of the prison wouldn't hear it, or would hear it and would not take action fast enough." Tavor said. However, after thorough research, Bio-Sense was able to record the patrol dogs' different barking patterns, load these recordings into a computer program, and determine "what makes the emergency bark different than the other barks," said Bio-Sense project manager Orit Netz.

The first DogGuard system was developed in 2005, and three more have been installed in Israeli prisons.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report June 2008

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