Tail-sniffing goes digital

Pop psychologists and canine aficionados theorize that you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of dog they own. And there’s a corollary to this theorem: that people with similar taste in dogs make great couples. Now, it just got easier for dog owners to meet and, perhaps, to fall in love. ...

602143_070503_snif_05.jpg
602143_070503_snif_05.jpg

Pop psychologists and canine aficionados theorize that you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of dog they own. And there's a corollary to this theorem: that people with similar taste in dogs make great couples.

Now, it just got easier for dog owners to meet and, perhaps, to fall in love. The aptly-named SNIF Labs—Social Networking in Fur, that is—is finally set to begin beta-testing a hotly anticipated new product that turns dogs into walking personal ads.

The technology, which was developed at MIT, sounds very cool indeed:

Pop psychologists and canine aficionados theorize that you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of dog they own. And there’s a corollary to this theorem: that people with similar taste in dogs make great couples.

Now, it just got easier for dog owners to meet and, perhaps, to fall in love. The aptly-named SNIF Labs—Social Networking in Fur, that is—is finally set to begin beta-testing a hotly anticipated new product that turns dogs into walking personal ads.

The technology, which was developed at MIT, sounds very cool indeed:

When two dogs wearing [SNIF’s special radio-enabled] tags come within range of each other, the tags start to swap dog and even owner information. Once owners are back home and using the company’s social-networking service, they can trade information about their dogs and themselves online.

“Social networking” is the concept that powers smash website successes like MySpace and Facebook.  (There’s even one called Dogster.) But this new tool strikes me as having a far greater potential for abuse if it isn’t implemented very carefully. The company says it has enacted numerous technological safeguards in order to allay privacy fears, such as that SNIF tags would enable stalkers or identity thieves. But, of course, it won’t be long before unscrupulous spammers figure out a way to exploit this new technology for their own ends. It’ll be interesting to see how they do it.

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