Credit: Bath University
Credit: Bath University

Researchers from the University of Bath have developed technology that would allow people to digitise their dogs.

Such an application could be used for a number of purposes, such as assisting vets in diagnosing issues walking and monitoring their recovery.

It could also be used for more entertaining reasons, such as putting digital representations of dogs into movies and video games – without constant use of motion capture suits or expensive equipment.

Computer scientists digitised the movement of 14 different breeds of dog, including lurchers and pugs, who were residents of the local animal shelter.

The motion capture suits, made especially for dogs, were filmed doing a range of movements as part of their activities.

They then created a computer model which could accurately predict and replicate the poses of dogs, capturing all the vital information without the dogs wearing the suits.

Instead, the researchers can use a RGBD camera. These are cameras also capable of recording depth alongside the red, green, and blue colours in each pixel that standard cameras photograph.

These cameras can cost approximately £100, while even low-budget motion capture suits can cost as much as $2,500 (approximately £2,000).

“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,” PhD researcher Sinéad Kearney said.

“This technology allows us to study the movement of animals, which is useful for applications such as detecting lameness in a dog and measuring its recovery over time.”

“For the entertainment industry, our research can help produce more authentic movement of virtual animals in films and video games. Dog owners could also use it to make a 3D digital representation of their pet on their computer, which is a lot of fun!”

Other animals have also been captured using the method, including horses, cats, lions and gorillas.

The researchers aim to extend this database further to make the results more accurate, as well as making it available for non-commercial use.

Professor Darren Cosker, director of the motion capture centre, said: “While there is a great deal of research on automatic analysis of human motion without markers, the animal kingdom is often overlooked.”

“Our research is a step towards building accurate 3D models of animal motion along with technologies that allow us to very easily measure their movement. This has many exciting applications across a range of areas – from veterinary science to video games.”

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