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Published on October 12th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise


Defense to Outfit and Steer Military Dogs with Augmented Reality Goggles

Emergent Insight:
The goal of augmented reality (AR) is fairly simple: deliver content to the enduser that is contextually useful, critical or even fun. The use cases are so varied it can even be applicable to the tasks of military dogs as reported by Brandi Vincent at Nextgov.com. AR has such a wide range of possibilities that even canines can learn and use it. The goal becomes a matter of defining what information is most helpful for the user at the time of need whether it is a human needing repair steps on a machine or a dog needing laser guidance at a disaster scene. How can companies support their employees with timely and valuable content when and where they need it? AR is such a simple alternative that even a dog can use it.

Original Article:
Photo courtesy Wendy Brown/Defense Department

Sights are set on tapping new technology to help better protect soldiers and the canines they guide.

U.S. military dogs might one day be equipped with augmented reality goggles that their human service member partners can remotely provide guiding commands through during dangerous rescue operations or explosive device hunts.

Seattle-based small business Command Sight produced a technological prototype that could enhance troops’ safety by enabling exactly that, and some say it could fundamentally transform how the U.S. military’s canines are deployed down the line. Having completed a phase I project developing the prototype via a Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program steered by the Army Research Office, the company was selected for funding through phase II, to further refine the potential product. 

“The military working dog community is very excited about the potential of this technology,” ARO senior scientist Dr. Stephen Lee said in an announcement published Tuesday. “[It] really cuts new ground and opens up possibilities that we haven’t considered yet.”

When it comes to heeding instructions from the people that lead them, military working dogs generally follow hand signals, laser pointers, or walkie talkies and cameras strapped to their own bodies—all of which can lead to confusion for the animals or risk of unwanted exposure for humans. But the new prototype offers human handlers the ability to see from the dog’s point of view, and a means to give commands while staying completely out of sight. 

According to the release, the goggles “are specially designed to fit each dog with a visual [indicator].” That indicator directs the canine to a particular point, where it can then follow a visual cue presented in the glasses. 

Research exploring dogs’ vision and cognition underpins the in-development device and technology. “We will be able to probe canine perception and behavior in a new way with this tool,” Lee noted.

With ambitious hopes to help close the gap in human and animal communication, Dr. A.J. Peper founded the small business Command Sight in 2017—subsequently identifying this military use case and creating the initial augmented reality glasses for pups prototype.

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