Augmented reality is among the most impressive examples of value brought by the ongoing digital transformation. However, the improvements so far have mostly been quantitative, like pushing the boundaries of immersive visuals and intuitive user interfaces via augmented reality from Singapore. In this article, we’ll look at the example of qualitative change – an attempt to bridge the communication between animals and humans.
AR Development Services for Animals
We are used to thinking about the digital revolution as something existing exclusively for humans. Nevertheless, its effects inevitably trickle down to other domains, so it is only a question of time before animals receive their share. Dogs, who are arguably the most popular companions of humans, already have a selection of smart gadgets that not only make the life of their owners easier but actually contribute to the safety and well-being of animals:
- Pet trackers
- Dog cameras
- Smart feeders and waterers
- Calming clothing
Virtual and augmented reality solutions have been relatively slow in this domain – not in the least due to the challenge of convincing animals to wear something on their head. Still, some progress in this direction has been made. One example is the Cat VR gadget for cats from PVRR, promoted as a way to provide immersive experience for pets that are kept indoors. It is worth noting that unlike AR, VR does not involve any inputs, which is another factor that probably slowed down augmented reality development – after all, you can’t expect a dog to interact with the UI. Nevertheless, it still holds a lot of potential, which was demonstrated by the example below.
Augmented Reality Goggles for Military Dogs
Since times immemorial, dogs have been fulfilling many roles for humans, and military service is not an exception. Among other things, they have been reliable companions in both rescue and assault operations as well as in the detection of explosives and other hazardous materials and are probably responsible for saving hundreds of human lives. Understandably, in doing this they also become exposed to a considerable threat. On top of that, working with dogs usually requires the presence of a handler nearby, who will direct the animal. Conventional methods like hand signals do not work on the battlefield – for obvious reasons. Laser pointers are a feasible alternative, although they have their own set of limitations – for instance, they require a direct line of sight, rendering them ineffective in complex and cluttered environments.
This is where augmented reality comes in. An initiative led by Command Sight and managed by the Army Research Office is working on the AR goggles that could improve communication between dogs and their handlers. The device is expected to stream live video feed from the dog’s point of view to the handler, who can then augment it with visual cues and commands. The technology is still in the early stage of development, with estimates of two years before for the first fully functional prototype. In its final form, the goggles will offer a considerable improvement in terms of accuracy and reliability over existing methods.
How It’s Done
The augmented reality development in question is based on the existing solution from Rex Specs – goggles that have been successfully used in a variety of applications, including the military. This allows leveraging existing experience and streamlining the adoption of the current technology. The gadget will be outfitted with a camera that would transmit the image from the dog’s perspective. This is actually a significant improvement over the currently used approach, in which the camera is mounted on the dog’s back, leading to a quite unstable feed.
The handler could thus observe the dog’s actions and add markers that will guide the dog through the environment. Currently, little is known about the specifics of the solution, although early prototypes seem to use a virtual laser projected into the animal’s line of sight. Several images available from the testing grounds feature a wired headset which will be replaced with a wireless alternative once the initial phase of testing is over.
Challenges of Augmented Reality for Canines
Despite the promising first results, there is still lots of difficulties to overcome. For starters, augmented reality goggles are a sensitive piece of equipment, which means additional precautions would be needed to achieve the desired level of robustness. On top of that, video feed requires a lot of bandwidth, so streaming over the air introduces the concerns of radio interference.
Then there’s the issue of training. Dogs are quite used to laser pointers, but that’s pretty much everything that unites the current approach with legacy solutions. Both dogs and handlers will need to get an overhaul in training and equipment.
Finally, there’s the challenge of the interface. Even if the augmented reality company in Singapore has extensive experience in UI and AR development, it will be of little value for canine applications without support from specialists in the field, so a lot of collaboration from different fields is to be expected.
Augmented reality continues to find applications in the most unexpected areas. What seemed like a neat gimmick is already making its way into areas ranging from urban planning to education to arts. The example above shows just how deep our creative potential can reach – as long as we are able to coordinate our actions and share the expertise for mutual benefit.