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What is it?

A physical pet that reflects the quality of the lifestyle and environment that the ‘owner’ is living in. Sparky is a waist-high model made of plastic and wood that has the ability to lift and collapse it’s body, make whimpering, coughing, happy and musical noises depending on the quality of it’s health.

What does it do?

Sparking responds negatively to: carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke, alcohol, too much dark lighting, hitting and yelling. Any of the above factors (depending on severity) makes Sparky drop it’s head and tail, whimper, and it’s body collapses. Sometimes you will not know why it’s whimpering and it is up to the person to figure out what is wrong with their dog. What can make Sparky stand up and make happy noises is strong lighting, talking nicely and walking him. (Walking him will give the fastest positive results).

How it works?

There are several sensors inside that provide input to a motor that releases strings and to our computer inside to play back sounds according to the health of the pet. health can also be displayed as a number value between -100 and +100, but is normally kept hidden and all the audience sees is the pet drop and stand in a series of steps.

Sensors included so far:
- light
- sound/noise
- accelerometer (measures movement),
- hit sensor (if someone hits it’s body)
- gas/alcohol sensor.

How can it impact society?

One thing we are hoping to explore are the ways that Sparky can influence or make people reflect on awareness regarding physical health and how environmental factors can effect a smaller being (giving smoking and alcohol negative connotation). It also acts as a negative projection tool, (people we have tested on aim to have a ‘happy’ dog, and one that is collapsed and whining almost seems embarrassing).

How does it engage the public?

When we have tested it in a main square it received a large amount of attention and people surrounding it for several minutes to see how it worked. Many of the children were quite interested and wanted to stay to look, but most of the parents were in a rush. We have a video of one child interacting with it, but it was fun for adults, children, and teens to see how different functions worked.

The sparky team is:

Amanda Hall (Canada)
Björn Petersson (Sweden)
Hamish Chilton (South-Africa)
Brent Swanepoel (South-Africa)
Kevin M. Gledhill (Germany)

We would like to thank David Cuartielles at K3 for his help!
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