Google Glass For Working Dogs
July 15, 2013

Researchers Working On Google Glass-Like Device For Dogs

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

According to the MIT Technology Review, scientists are working on a wearable smart device for dogs.

The report said that researchers are working on a wearable device for dogs that would be embedded in clothing and teeth. The system, called "facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations" (FIDO), is meant to make it easy for animals to communicate with their handlers better. FIDO works by activating a sensor on a dog's vest or collar that transmits a verbal command to the handler through an earpiece or a head-mounted display.

The researchers, including Georgia Institute of Technology visiting associate professor Melody Jackson, professor and Google Glass technical lead Thad Starner, and research scientist Clint Zeagler, equipped a dog vest with an Arduino microprocessor and tested four different sensors that dogs could activate by biting, tugging or putting their mouth nearby. Three service dogs participating in the project were able to use the device to quickly learn to activate the sensors to set off a tone.

Not only could FIDO eventually help disabled people navigate better, but it could enable bomb-sniffing dogs to communicate with handlers remotely about what specific type of bomb they have encountered. The new device would also allow for rescue dogs to remotely alert a team that they have found an injured person.

The researchers have received a grant from Google that will allow them to study some of these applications FIDO could have. Eventually, Jackson told Technology Review that the device could help pets alert owners if they are hungry or need to go out.

The team said the biggest development issue to overcome right now is battery life, because technology hasn't kept pace as gadgets get smaller and more widely used. Another big problem would be durability, because dogs could require a more rugged device than the smart technology that humans wear, such as Google Glass.

According to Technology Review, the researchers say it is just a matter of time until humans get comfortable with these smart gadgets.

"At first people are going to say it's weird," Jackson told Technology Review, "but then everybody will want one."

Google Glass began to ship out to a select number of developers this past April for a price tag of $1,500. Essentially, the smart glasses enable wearers to access many of the features found in an Android device without the need of hands.