Daily Insights

Can You Teach a Dog New Tricks?

By: Mackenzie Baker | Oct 28, 2020

The U.S. Army is testing augmented reality goggles for its canine units, potentially allowing the dogs to complete tasks at a distance without having a handler nearby. Typical tasks for military dogs include detecting explosives and accompanying patrols, which are done through the signals of their handlers. With the new AR technology, the canines can view signals remotely and be directed to search specific locations on their own. The Army is currently testing out a prototype created by the Army Research Laboratory and tech company Command Sight, which includes a command system stimulated by what a dog might see when following directions from a laser pointer. To ensure the goggles fit the different breeds of dogs correctly, the military is taking 3D scans of the trial canines to better understand where each tech component should be placed. The glasses are currently wired, but the Army plans to create a wireless version, which could give the canines even more distance capabilities.  

The technology could be the first of its kind for animals and could further develop canine roles in the military. By establishing dog goggles, the U.S. military could become a leader in wearable tech and demonstrate augmented reality’s use outside of apps and digital platforms, according to a Gartner report on the topic. Unlike tech goggles created for human consumption, the Army’s AR tech could help handlers see everything from their dog’s point of view and provide signals only in the dog’s line of vision. Getting the canines to don a pair of AR goggles could actually be the easier part of the initiative, as military dogs already wear protective goggles during operations. As every branch of the U.S. military utilizes canines, the next step in the AR goggles development is to test them on dogs in the US Navy Special Forces. The goggles are currently in development and trial phasing and could be released for combat within the next two years. 

While many high-tech products are focused on human consumers, the Army’s AR goggles are going to the dogs. The technology could provide a new look at canines’ role in the military and further cultivate electronics’ role in communications, including those between a dog and their handler.