Finding Dog Poop in the Fall- an Engineer's Solution!
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Finding Dog Poop in the Fall- an Engineer's Solution!

Posted by Matthew Ruggiero on

A Really Crappy Problem

It’s that time of year again! The trees are changing colors, leaves all around, beautiful scenery around the country, and the air becoming cold and crisp as the land prepares for winter. But there’s one problem- leaves. All around. Everywhere. All over the grass. And they’re brown. How in the world am I supposed to find where my dog went to the bathroom to clean it up?



So let's think about this problem- you have (usually) cold temperatures, large areas where the dog poop could be, a bland color scheme and lack of color definition, and excretion that is body temperature coming out. My solution- an INFRARED CAMERA!

What is infrared?  

Infrared is a wavelength just greater than that of the red end of the visible light spectrum but less than that of microwaves. Infrared radiation has a wavelength from about 800 nm to 1 mm, and is emitted particularly by heated objects. Basically, an invisible radiant energy is given off by an object that the camera can pick up and translate into a photo that we, humans, can interpret. The sun emits tons of this type of energy, hence a planet that has some heat to it. Bees actually see in infrared to tell where pollen is strongest in plants!

Bee's infrared vision

The problem with this solution is that a nice IR camera costs around $5,000. However, technology today has given us the ability to take that $5,000 piece of equipment and put it on our phone for $150! Enter a company called Flir, who has come out with an IR attachment for the iPhone 5 and 6, and has the app to go along with it. While IR cameras are usually used in home energy audits to find cold spots in your walls, I wanted to use it much, much differently…to find dog poop in the yard.

The IR Camera in Action!

Here in Minnesota, the morning temperatures are around 45°F...perfect for trying out my experiment. When a dog goes to the bathroom, I assume that I have around 5 minutes before the poop becomes ambient temperature and will no longer register on the IR camera (but will continue testing this). Here is a picture of the yard with a normal lens:

 Grass with dog poop

Tough to see anything right? Oh, the treasure is there somewhere, hidden. And when you find it with your shoe instead of your eyes, it really makes your day. Here is the same area with the Flir IR camera attachment.

 Dog poop on the ground with IR camera


Bingo. Nice, glowing, red ball of stink at 12 o’clock. And that was from about 15ft away, one minute after the dog was finished going to the bathroom. How hot is that you ask? Good question! According to the IR camera, a steamy 85°F!


Hand with dog poop at 85F

These cameras are available on their site for $149.99 (iPhone 5). Expensive? Yes, but there are a whole bunch of reasons to have an IR camera handy- a story for another blog post in the future. Either way, if you have this problem like we did, then we thought you might enjoy this post! 

If you have any friends with this problem and they are nerds like me, send it on! I would love to hear your feedback on my wacky idea! 

Thanks for reading!! As usual, for reading get 15% OFF your order of any size, code POOPSTORY. Good for the next week. 

Happy hunting!
Matt and Penny

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  • Great article. My husband is an engineer, but he never thought of this! I’ll have to let him have it lol!

    Joann on
  • OMG this is so clever! How the heck did you think of this? I will have to try it up here in northern Michigan!

    Cindy Russel on

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