US Army canines may soon be sporting Augmented Reality goggles while in combat. Created by tech firm Command Sight and managed by the US Army Research Laboratory, the goggles are designed to allow the dogs to receive orders from their handlers at a safe distance.
While military dogs can be tasked to scout for explosives and other potential hazards, they still require instructions from their handlers. The AR goggles can give their handlers the cloak of safety while being able to give crucial instructions to direct the dog's movements.
The system that operates the device is based on Microsoft's Hololens technology. An optoelectronic component converts light into electrical energy and vice versa and transmits it to a pair of Rex Specs goggles which are already being used for canine eye protection by the military.
The goggles display a visual indicator that the dogs can see and be trained to follow. The handlers see the exact same visuals through a remote video feed and use it to direct the dog to a specific spot that could be a potential safety hazard.
Currently, soldiers deployed in combat situations command their dogs using hand signals or laser pointers. Using these methods requires them to be within close proximity of the dog's sight and run a great risk of being found out. Should the prototype of the AR goggles become a widely adopted device for the military, such safety concerns will be a thing of the past.
Augmented reality works differently with dogs as it does with humans. Each pair of goggles are specifically designed and fitted for a particular dog and its handler, the BBC wrote.
According to Command Sight's founder, Dr. AJ. Peper, the project is still in its birthing stages of research. However, he shared that they are extremely pleased with the very promising results as a lot of the research done was performed using his own dog.
As it is, the firm has been given additional funding to design a wireless version of the goggles as the current one works on a wired version which keeps the dog on a leash.
Military dogs in goggles is not a new thing. The canines are used to wearing them as protection in bad weather conditions or for aerial drops. Wearing the new AR goggles will be easier for them to adapt to.