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How Companion Works

By Libby Rockaway BA MSc MS · May 03, 2023
How Companion Works

Companion is the first device to interact autonomously and dynamically with dogs.   But, what does that mean and how does it do that?

Companion Device

First, a bit about the device.  Companion has a camera, treat launcher, and computer inside. All of this technology enables it to see the dog and use its computer vision to continuously analyze the dog’s body position; it then responds using training techniques designed by animal behavior experts and implemented by software engineers.


Here’s an example of this in an advanced game. In the game Simon Says, Companion asks the dog for learned behaviors by saying  “Simon Says, <behavior>”, such as “Simon Says, Sit”. After cueing the dog, Companion searches every frame of the video stream for evidence that the dog is sitting. When Companion is confident the dog is in the requested position, it responds with “Yes!” and launches a treat.

This ability to detect a dog’s position and reinforce based on it is unlike any other device. Every time Companion is about to ask for a behavior, it evaluates what position the dog is currently in, and chooses a behavior other than the one the dog is currently demonstrating. This ensures the dog isn’t being asked for a behavior they are already offering.

It’s not just the advanced games that include this technology though, every Companion game includes this advanced interaction with the dogs. From the very beginning, Companion responds based on the dog’s interactions and behaviors. One of the introductory games that dogs play is called “Blue Light Yellow Light” - based on the children’s game “Red Light Green Light”. Companion says “Blue light!” and then launches multiple treats consecutively at various distances to encourage your dog to run back and forth rapidly. Then it says “Yellow light!” and pauses. As your dog progresses through the game, the yellow light stage can get gradually longer in duration, and as the duration increases your dog is learning patience in addition to passively developing a “stay” behavior! At any point, if the pause becomes a little too long for the dog and they wander off to explore something else, Companion will then lure them back by tossing a single treat, and then decrease the duration of the future “yellow light” stages to set your dog up for success and interact at the level they are ready for.

Welcome to the Companion journey.