In many towns and cities around the world, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one is marked by the pop, fizz and bang of fireworks. This party in the sky can be very stressful and distressing for animals, even if they're lucky enough to be wrapped in a thunder vest. Automaker Ford has heard the cries of pooches and come up with a kennel prototype designed to block out external sounds and create a quiet zone for anxious canines.
Ford says that RSPCA stats show that 45 percent of dogs in the UK display signs of distress when fireworks go off. Natural rumbles in the sky from thunderstorms can also result in panic and fearful trembling, causing equally distressed families to wrap their companions in a continuous calming hug courtesy of a tight-fitting vest or jacket. But that doesn't stop them hearing the explosions in the heavens outside.
Using similar technology found in noise-canceling headphones and introduced to its Edge SUV, Ford has built a prototype kennel that entombs a four-legged family member in a cone of silence. When a microphone inside the special kennel registers the sound of fireworks, an audio system sends out opposing frequencies to cancel out the noise. The dog house has also been sound-proofed with high density cork.
"We wondered how the technologies we use in our cars could be applied to help in other situations," said Ford Europe's Lyn West. "Making sure dogs and their owners could enjoy a stress-free New Year's Eve seemed like the perfect application for our Active Noise Control system."
Ford hasn't mentioned exactly how effective the prototype is at shielding dogs from anxiety and stress caused by fireworks, noise canceling tech used in headphones doesn't always prevent sounds from the outside from crashing the playlist party for human listeners, and dogs have much better hearing than us. But it should be at least a little quieter in there.
For the moment though, you won't be able to try the kennel in your home, as there's no mention of future commercial availability. The project is the first of Ford's Interventions series, where the company seeks to tackle everyday problems using its automotive know-how.
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