Triangulating the office dog

Emma, our office manager, has forbidden us any office pets of the higher orders. She has said she’ll allow hissing cockroaches, which was a singularly unpopular option. (Emma has a PhD in entomology – the study of insects – and we’re worried she’s serious.)

Hissing cockroaches, like dogs, tend to wander (cockroaches do it in more of a scuttling style than dogs, but the principle holds), and in a large office with many rooms, it can be hard to locate your pet. So we are extremely impressed by the problem-solving hacking of the folks at Red Pepper, a digital agency in Atlanta and Nashville, whose office dog is a) adorable and b) bionic. Bean the greyhound wears a collar fitted with a beacon, and Red Pepper’s office is equipped with three bluetooth-sniffing Raspberry Pis, so she can be located at all times.


Triangulate roaming office dogs with a Beacon and Raspberry Pis. Learn more at Music: Zedd – Find You (Exige Piano & Launchpad Cover) feat. Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant

We are unclear on whether this approach will work with cockroaches.

Matt Reed, Bean’s caretaker, and Red Pepper’s hacker-of-things, is behind the project. He says:

Beacons are usually placed in stationary locations such as displays or areas of interest in retail stores. They emit a polling signal every second or so that any device with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) can pick up, your phone being one of them. That signal includes a few unique IDs and a value called an RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) which basically tells how close you are to the beacon.

If you have an app that is configured to listen for a beacon with a certain ID it can make things happen behind the scenes. For instance, at a retailer, the app could determine if you’re standing in front of a pair of jeans and then tell a server on the internet this information. The server can then send out a push notification giving you a deal on jeans.

For Sniffur we flipped this scenario and put the normally stationary beacon on a moving dog. The signal strength then emits from the dog for our three antennas to pick up and process.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.57.23

You can read more about the build, and about Bean, over at Red Pepper’s website. Thanks Matt – please give Bean a cookie for us!