Developed by Georgia Institute of Technology associate professor Melody Jackson, Google Glass technical lead Thad Starner, and research scientist Clint Zeagler, the technology is aimed at easing communication between an animal and its handler.
FIDO equips dogs with a vest or collar integrated with four sensors that can be activated when the dog bites, tugs, or puts its mouth nearby. The sensor then transmits a verbal command to the handler, who listens through an earpiece or watches on a head-mounted display.
Three service dogs participating in an early study were quick to understand the technology, which could eventually allow bomb-sniffing dogs to remotely communicate with their handler about found explosives. The researchers also hope to apply the mechanism to rescue dogs that could remotely alert a human team upon discovery of an injured party.
They hope that Fido will help bomb sniffer dogs to inform their handlers about what types of explosives they have encountered, while rescue dogs could remotely alert a paramedic that they have discovered an injured person.
The technology could have domestic applications, too. Pets may be able to tell their owners they are hungry, Melody Jackson, one of the professors working on Fido, who has trained assistance dogs for nearly two decades, suggested. Fido is part of a broader surge in interest in “wearable computing”.