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Responding Quickly and Learning Brightness update (June 2017)
Responding Quickly and Learning Brightness update (June 2017)
Leo Trottier avatar
Written by Leo Trottier
Updated over a week ago

We’ve recently updated Challenge 6: “Responding Quickly” and Challenge 7: “Learning Brightness”. 

If your dog is on one of these challenges, you might notice a difference!

We’re constantly working to improve the challenges the CleverPet Hub provides to your dog. Often times these changes aren’t very visible. We will sometimes change timing or advancement criteria for certain challenges, and it can be hard to notice these small changes unless you’ve got a stopwatch and a spreadsheet. Sometimes, though, the changes are a bit more apparent, especially when we change things like the numbers of touchpads lighting up and the logic of a particular puzzle.

Why we changed these challenges

We heard from a number of users that their pups were taking a bit more time on Learning Brightness than they had on other challenges. That’s ok, every dog has a different relationship with the Hub and learns different challenges at different rates. As long as they’re still interacting and playing with the Hub, they have the ability to get better and eventually figure out a given challenge. 

Then we found that some dogs were getting discouraged by the increase in difficulty on this particular challenge and playing less than they used to as they got stuck! If the dogs actually stopped playing, they’d never have a chance to learn and progress. Not ok!

What we changed

Instead of beginning a given play with all three touchpads lit up (old version), the dog only has one touchpad to press to begin the play. 

This is especially important in Learning Brightness, as there was the potential for dogs to be susceptible to visual masking between the initial request-to-play (the first touchpad press that says: “give me a dim one and a bright one!”) and the following brightness discrimination. We also changed this in Responding Quickly to be consistent between the related challenges, and to allow the change described below.

We programmed the puzzles so that the request-to-play touchpad could not also be the winning touchpad on a given play.

 One common way we saw dogs getting stuck on these two challenges was by very quickly ‘button mashing’ and pressing the same touchpad multiple times in a row without paying attention to the information the Hub was giving them about which touchpad to press next. 

Now, the request-to-play touchpad is not allowed to be the winning touchpad in either challenge or the dimmer touchpad in Learning Brightness. Dogs should realize that button mashing is no longer a viable option for winning kibbles!

We broke Learning Brightness into smaller, easier chunks. 

Originally, we threw a whole bunch of different levels of bright and dim at dogs all at once. Sometimes a particular play would be REALLY easy, and sometimes it would be REALLY hard! Overall, dogs can learn by trial and error to press the brighter of the two lights. We made our best guess (it was, to be fair to us, an educated guess based on what we knew about dogs, our Hub, and the average brightness in people’s homes) at the initial values and had to change them later based on seeing how a whole bunch of dogs were able to learn and perform. Now, we ramp the difficulty more gradually and collect more evidence that a dog is learning well before we move them onto the next level of difficulty within the challenge. (Here’s some fun reading on stimulus discrimination.)

There were some other little tweaks, but these are the big ones, and the ones you’re likely to notice. The games play a little bit differently, and we’ve modified them to be more appropriate for a wider variety of dog play types.

We tested out these changes with a number of our users, and found them to be a really great step in the right direction. Now we’re ready to send it out to all of you! Thank you so much to our testers and their humans - you’re helping make the CleverPet experience better for everyone! Want to help us test new Challenges? Let us know by filling out this form.

We hope you like the changes - please let us know what you think!

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