viewing augmented reality content and news on a page using a smartphone ( By elenabsl/Shutterstock.com)

Agencies experiment with augmented reality

The IRS wants to see if augmented reality can help users with mobile devices better understand tax forms.

The draft request for proposals calls for AR solutions that would overlay contextual information on existing public-facing IRS forms, especially for users of mobile devices. The idea, the agency said, is to "provide solutions capable of generating information which improves the taxpayer experience when any mobile device is directed at IRS images" or documents with AR or related capabilities.

The IRS does not plan to use the technology for tax returns but rather wants to see how AR leverages publically available information to improve user experience. To that end, the agency is looking for a solution that improve the taxpayer experience, interfaces with IRS websites and delivers “real-time insights into the use of and satisfaction surrounding the tool,” the RFI said. The draft solicitation notes that the tax agency does not anticipate hosting AR solutions on IRS architecture.

The agency is using its Pilot IRS program, which poses "solution challenges" to vendors, to test and deploy experimental products at once before making any final decisions.

Previous Pilot IRS challenges have sought solutions in robotic process automation tools to cut down on manual data entry, as well as high-speed scanning and image recognition. Under Pilot IRS, the agency announces funding for several projects at once while following a three-phase program to determine whether experimental solutions and technologies help achieve IRS missions, and which provide the best value based on technical capabilities, past performance and price.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is also shopping for an advanced mapping AR solution that displays information such as street names, addresses, parcel data, business names and landmarks directly over live video taken from aircraft, according to an Aug. 11 solicitation.

DEA is currently using the Shotover Systems’ Augmented Reality Mapping Systems to support ground-based enforcement personnel with recorded video evidence. The company’s ARS provides AR overlays onto 3D satellite and synthetic imagery, allowing officials to y identify street addresses, traffic conditions, estimate crowd sizes, measure areas and even display a vehicle’s speed during pursuits

A version of this article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Chris Riotta is a staff writer at FCW covering government procurement and technology policy. Chris joined FCW after covering U.S. politics for three years at The Independent. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president.

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