The Electronic Watchdog

Our much loved Family dog Shilo had reached an age where he needed to retire from watchdog duties and relax. The idea came to mind that an Electronic Watchdog could carry on the good work and allow Shilo to enjoy his retirement years. After some research into what was commercially available I found that no products existed.

After further consideration I decided that a suitable concept should have the following capabilities:
1. A radar detector providing speed and distance data
2. A multiple bark recording on a silicon memory chip
3. A personality circuit mimicking a trained guard dog
4. Ability to select from a variety of barking patterns
5. Fully selfcontained and portable
6. A powerful amplifier matching a loud barking dog
7. Radar Range and Bark Volume controls
8. Ability to operate from inside and detect outside

It was going to be a big project !   Recording audio on a silicon chip had not been done yet so I had to design a Digital recording system to digitise and record audio data onto RAM, and a PROM burning circuit to transfer the data from the RAM onto a more permanent ROM. The next challenge was the personality circuit and fortunately the movement sensor provided two streams of information; speed and distance of intruder; so a circuit was devised to determine the appropriate barking response using these two inputs and then add in a 20% randomness component, thus creating the personality. The next difficult task was to get a perfect recording of a trained watchdog. Several trips around the neighbourhood at night with a tape recorder, banging on fences after dark produced many good dog responses but all were corrupted with traffic noise, doors banging, human voices, sirens etc. Fortunately my father had a friend who was the Police dog trainer and had trained his own German Shepherd as a guard dog. He was happy to help with getting perfect recordings of the variety of barks and barking sequences needed for the project.

After a further 6 months of design work, a prototype Electronic Watchdog was born and preliminary trials proved very successful, with other dogs nearby barking in response and humans deterred by the barking.

After it was demonstrated at the Inventors Association meeting, journalist Leon Gettler wrote an article and posted a picture on the front page of the Sun Newspaper the next day. This created a Media Frenzy with Television, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, and Feature program producers local and overseas all joining in, amounting to a very exciting month to follow. The spinoff from this publicity was that many people were now aware of the new alarm and orders started coming in. Despite having Australian and American patents, within 18 months a Taiwanese company copied my designs and copyrights and sold the copy dog worldwide, it was inferior to the original and many purchasers stuck with our original design, manufacture and follow up models.