Talking to your dog may soon become a two-way conversation as a remarkable new breakthrough may soon allow for people to talk to their pets and vice versa. Scientists are currently working on “pet translator” that could convert dog barks and growls into human language.
Con Slobodchickoff, a Northern Arizona University professor emeritus of biology, has been studying the communication patterns of prairie dogs for over thirty years. After all those years of intense study, he believes the animals have their own form of language. Professor Slobodchickoff coupled his experience of studying prairie dogs with that of a computer scientist to come up with an algorithm to could convert the rodent’s sounds into English.
Slobodchickoff later founded a company called Zoolingua, with the main goal of developing a “pet translator” that could turn animal sounds, facial expressions, and gestures into human language.
“I thought, if we can do this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats,” said Slobodchickoff.
However, the professor is currently interested in dogs and how they “talk”. He wants the new device to translate a dog’s bark into simple English words and sentences such as “I want to go for a walk”.
Slobodchickoff believes humans will be able to communicate to animals within 10 years. In addition, an Amazon researchers, William Higham, also estimated the appearance of a pet translator, however, it may take an extra decade for it to reach the market. Higham said last year that such a device would be met by high consumer demand.
The potential pet translator, however, is still in its early stages, as Slobodchickoff is currently amassing “thousands” of videos depicting dogs which are barking, growling, or showing off specific gestures. This data will then be converted into an artificial intelligence algorithm which will be able to recognize the animal’s means of communication. Slobodchickoff hopes the data will allow them to develop a pet translator that delivers results accurately and not based on guesswork.
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