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Create A Digital Avatar Of Your Dog To Monitor Their Health

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on June 17, 2020

The University of Bath recently made a major breakthrough in the canine and computer worlds. They discovered a new motion capture system that can turn dogs into digital avatars using limited technology. All you have to do is film your dog with a single camera. In fact, no motion capture suits are necessary.

For many dog parents, digitizing dogs into computer games sounds like a fun activity. However, this research can benefit so much more than just entertainment. It could open new opportunities for the health and film industries.

What Can This Discovery Help With?

The most crucial part of this research is that it can make it easier for you to keep your dog healthy. By filming your dog and creating a digital version of them, vets can examine them online. They can more closely study your dog’s movements, making it easier for them to diagnose lameness. Additionally, it can also help you monitor your dog’s recovery from a medical problem.

Image: @BathCDH/Facebook

Additionally, this discovery can also benefit the entertainment industry. It will make it easier for people to put digital versions of dogs into movies and video games. Before, it was a struggle to get a dog into a motion suit for filming, but now, their motions can be detected without it. Also, some dog parents might even choose to create a digital version of their dog just for fun.

This research was conducted by computer scientists from CAMERA, the University of Bath’s motion capture research center. They worked with dogs who were local residents at Bath Cats and Dogs Home (BCDH).

“While there is a great deal of research on automatic analysis of human motion without markers, the animal kingdom is often overlooked,” said Professor Darren Cosker, the Director of CAMERA. “Our research is a step towards building accurate 3D models of animal motions along with technologies that allow us to very easily measure their movement.”

Image: @uniofbath/Facebook

How is it possible?

This research began with 14 dogs from BCDH. These dogs were all different sizes from a tall, skinny Greyhound to a short, round Pug. Each dog wore a special motion suit with round markers on it. Then, the computer scientists filmed the dogs doing a series of movements through enrichment activities. The dogs were supervised by their BCDH handlers at all times.

Next, they used that data to make computer models of the dogs. Those models can accurately predict and replicate a dog’s movements, even if they’re not wearing a motion suit. To capture a dog’s actions, all you need is a single RGBD camera. This camera differs from a normal RGB camera because it not only recognizes the individual colors in each pixel but also their distance from the camera.

Image: @uniofbath/Facebook

“This is the first time RGBD images have been used to track the motion of dogs using a single camera, which is much more affordable than traditional motion capture systems that require multiple cameras,” said PhD researcher Sinéad Kearney.

The research team presented this information at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference. They also started testing these methods on other four-legged animals, such as horses, cats, and lions. This new discovery is a step in the right direction for many industries from film to health. Hopefully, this research could even benefit your own dog in the future.

Featured Image: @uniofbath/Facebook

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