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Testing Augmented Reality on Dogs

Till the time we are able to replace our beloved pooches from the dangerous fieldwork of the military with an AI such as Boston Dynamics’ ‘Spot’ the use of AR goggles on dogs is our best bet for the field jobs completion by these highly trained canines.

The Job Of An Army Dog

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An army dog is trained to be its finest possible version and to perform tasks such as commodity retrieval, explosive detection, and scouting with great efficiency. The dogs’ handlers use either hand gestures or laser pointers to command their dogs in the field for the task. Though the dogs are also trained to take vocal commands the visual commands are far less confusing for the dog and also helps in the time of stealth.

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But there are some barriers they face the same, such as, the dogs’ constant need to look back at its handler to receive further visual commands for the task, which breaks the dog’s concentration and also increases the chances of dog of being distracted from the task due to the surrounding. The other mode commanding the dog for the tasks is the use of laser pointers, but this too has its limitation as the handler always needs to be in the direct line of sight for the laser pointer to direct the canine, which puts him/her in the harm’s way.

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So to solve these problems came a Seattle based private company: Command Sight that is being monitored by the Army Research Laboratory. Though this technology is still in its prototype phase and is currently used only by the US Army, soon the tech will expand to other countries and to other branches of defense. The prototype model is a wired model, that is, it needs to be plugged into a power source at all times for the glasses to work. This actually leads to the dog being kept on a leash at all times. However, the good news is that the company claims that all these issues will be solved in the next two years and a completely wireless version of the glasses will be available which will deliver its promises and solve all the above-mentioned problems of the field.

Test Results

The CEO of the company: AJ Peper has been testing and experimenting with the technology on his Rottweiler named Mater. The results put forward by the company and the US Army’s own testing is very promising. The results tell us that this method of commanding the dog using AR is much more efficient and less distractive for the dog. The handler is able to monitor each and every step of the employed canine with the help of a camera fitted in the glasses itself.

The Glasses’ Features, Keeping The Dogs In Mind

The glasses that the canines are made to wear are custom made for each dog’s head. The dog’s head’s 3D model is taken and the glasses are made exclusively. This is done so as to create a perfect fit for the dog to have the best viewing angle and to make it as natural as possible. The screen in the glasses projects a laser pointer like a dot on the surroundings using the AR tech that only the dog can see, keeping everything stealthy. Studies have shown that a dog does not try to interact with the AR projections from the glasses unlike humans, thus usage of these glasses doesn’t hinder their task completion and only assists them in the same.

The use of glasses for the dogs is not something new and they have been used by the army to protect their dog’s eyes from harsh weather and aerial drops. However, this addition of AR is something which we have witnessed as new.



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