Proving that we don’t deserve dogs, the US military has engineered augmented reality goggles that will help protect soldiers on the battlefield. Yeah, nah.
Back in November of 2019, we marvelled at Hvaldimir, the fetch-playing Beluga whale who went viral, not for his ball skills, but because he was probably a Russian spy. As The Big Smoke reported at the time, “The ease of which Hvaldimir interacts with humans strongly suggests that he is trained by humans, and the Russian navy has reportedly begun training beluga whales to guard bases, kill trespassers and lend a hand to Russian military deep-sea divers. This is not a far-fetched narrative, as the 1980s Soviet Russia military used to employ the services of dolphins to detect enemy weapons, though the mammal programme was closed down in the 1990s. However, a 2017 report from the defence ministry revealed that Russia had rebooted the training centres in 2014.”
Now, why reference this devious mammal? Well, because across the sea humankind is responsible for yet another dose of militaristic animal-based nonsense. The US military have, for whatever reason, invented augmented reality goggles for dogs. Colloquially named ‘doggles’, the devices will purportedly help pups protect their people in the field.
“Augmented reality works differently for dogs than for humans,” Stephen Lee, an Army Research Laboratory senior scientist, explained in a statement. “AR will be used to provide dogs with commands and cues; it’s not for the dog to interact with it like a human does.”
“Much of the research to date has been conducted with my rottweiler, Mater,” Command Sight founder A.J. Peper said in the statement. “His ability to generalise from other training to working through the AR goggles has been incredible.”
“This technology provides one of the best camera systems for military working dogs,” according to Lee, and device allows the “handler can see exactly what the dogs sees.”
“This new technology offers us a critical tool to better communicate with military working dogs,” Lee added.
As the maxim suggests, we don’t deserve dogs; but in the wake of these goggles, I’m certain they don’t deserve this.