Everyone loves photos of good, good boys, but dogs tend to be pretty bad at taking selfies. That means just about every photo of your doggo in existence is one that you snapped yourself. Wouldn’t life just be so much better if your dog could take their own selfies for you to peruse later? Of course it would be; that is everyone’s dream come true! Most of us don’t have the skills to build a device to make that possible, nor a dog that is smart enough to figure out the process. Fortunately Simone Giertz has both, and for her newest video she used LEGO to create a photo booth for her dog to take photos of herself.
Most dogs, sadly, lack the ability to operate a traditional camera. That’s why Giertz designed this photo booth with a big pedal that is used as a trigger for the camera. When her dog, Scraps, steps on the pedal, a photo will be snapped and a treat will be dispensed to let her know what a good girl she is. That is, of course, the fundamental principle of reinforcement training, which means that this photo booth will encourage Scraps over time to take more and more photos, like an Instagram model who feeds on the validation from internet strangers liking their photos. Obviously, Scraps is just in it for the treats and not the fame.
Almost everything for this project was built using LEGO, either with standard bricks or with LEGO MindStorms pieces. Giertz started by constructing a dog house out of standard bricks that is big enough to comfortably accommodate Scraps’s small body. She then used the MindStorms pieces to add the selfie and treat dispensing functionality. The pedal contains a distance sensor, which lets the system know when Scraps has stepped on it. When that happens, a small motorized mechanism is used to press the shutter button on a GoPro camera and a separate mechanism spins a treat dispenser. The later was originally a commercial product, but was repurposed for this project. All of the programming for this process was done using the LEGO app, which has a block-based coding option that anyone can figure out. The result is a photo booth that Scraps can operate all by herself.