The army has started putting AR goggles on dogs. The U.S. Army’s military has been working with a company called Command Sight which is focused on making AR goggles called Rex Specs for canines. Military dogs detect explosive devices, hazardous materials, and help in rescue operations. With the AR goggles on the dogs, men and the women in the military will be safer as a result.
The dog’s handler will now stay out of the line of fire. The goggles “could fundamentally change how military canines are deployed in the future,” since the goggles will have cameras on them. No longer will handlers need to use lasers or hand signals to direct the dogs. “In 2017, Dr. A.J. Peper started Command Sight, a small business based in Seattle, to bridge human and animal communication,” according to the Army’s press release. “Through conversations with current and former military operators he identified a need to increase the efficacy of communication between canine and handler. As a result, Command Sight built the first prototype of augmented reality glasses for military working dogs,” the press release says.
Now handlers can digitally highlight objects to direct the dog. The Army believes the goggles will eliminate confusion for the dog and keep the handler safe. The army intends on using them more and more in the future starting in two years.
Researchers are currently working on making the goggles wireless. “We are still in the beginning research stages of applying this technology to dogs, but the results from our initial research are extremely promising,” Dr. A.J. Pepper said. “Much of the research to date has been conducted with my rottweiler, Mater. His ability to generalize from other training to working through the AR goggles has been incredible. We still have a way to go from a basic science and development perspective before it will be ready for the wear and tear our military dogs will place on the units.”
It’s a costly project that the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office is funding, at least the next phase of development. Now that Command Sight has that funding, the company continues to work closely with the Navy Special Forces. “Even without the augmented reality, this technology provides one of the best camera systems for military working dogs,” the press release added. “Now, cameras are generally placed on a dog’s back, but by putting the camera in the goggles, the handler can see exactly what the dogs sees and it eliminates the bounce that comes from placing the camera on the dog’s back.”
Military dogs are often in danger and killed. For example, a military dog was even present during the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Not everyone is a fan of military dogs, especially PETA. The organization has, again and again, protested the military for their treatment of animals, including dogs. PETA has yet to comment on the AR goggles for dogs, but across Twitter, there’s some backlash to the news. A few American citizens and social media users aren’t happy military funds going towards AR for dogs instead of other causes.