With the celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who and a new series around the corner, Mark Walden investigates the advances of technology and whether assistance dogs will eventually be replaced our very own K-9 robots…
The Day of the Doctor is approaching! Equipped with his trusty sonic screwdriver, time shifting Tardis and of course his loyal assistant robot dog K-9 Doctor Who is returning to our screens.
K-9 is Doctor Who’s robotic companion but with today’s technology not so far away from that of his first incarnation in 1963 it makes you wonder, could robots ever replace real hearing dogs for the deaf? Hearing Dogs for Deaf People was formed back in 1982, far before the widespread use of personal computers, smart-phones and the world wide web. Will that ever change in the future?
At first glance it almost seems perfect. Low cost, minimal maintenance and no training involved – and the technology is actually out there. What’s not to like?
We’ve put together this info-graphic to test the theory and see how K-9 would fare in completing some of a hearing dogs everyday tasks…
|OK, so perhaps our study is a little biased but one thing is for certain, in each case hearing dogs provide their owners with the one thing that robots can never provide; companionship, emotional support and a link to the hearing world.Hearing dogs are trained to detect alarms and, unlike a robot, capable of learning and adapting to their owners lifestyle. They have a sense self awareness and judgement that goes the extra mile and naturally thrive on making us happy.They can potentially allow some of the nearly 10 million adults and children in the UK with hearing loss to live independently or go to school and interact with other people.K-9 on the other hand is capable of playing chess, flying, talking and occasionally saving the world from time to time. They are of course good qualities in any dog you come across but he lacks the emotion, empathy and body language that could speak a thousand words to a deaf person. Maybe he should stick to saving the world and travelling through time and leave hearing dogs to the professionals.There is one thing in common between robot and assistance dog though and that’s the extremely high costs that are involved to make them. It’s estimated to cost the Charity on average of £45,000 per assistance dog. The Charity receives no government funding and rely 100% on your donations and support to keep going.So next time you watch Doctor Who, pause for a minute and think that you don’t always need to traverse worlds to help others in need, you can help a deaf person by supporting Hearing Dogs and give them a second chance. Why not get involved and get the chance to meet some of these amazing dogs yourself?
If you want to learn more about hearing dogs or are interested in getting involved, you can visit: http://www.hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteering/opportunities-in-your-area for more information.