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http://www.techtv.com/news/computing/story/0,24195,3395378,00.html Can your pet pooch’s barks and growls really be translated into humanspeak? By Becky Worley, Tech Live

It’s 8 p.m. and the dog is staring at you as you doze on the couch. He starts to whine, and his whine slowly escalates in pitch and intensity until it culminates in one sharp bark. Is this the “Someone’s sneaking up the driveway with an ax” bark or the “I didn’t get enough for dinner, can I have a biscuit” bark? Tonight on “Tech Live” Becky Worley shows you an incredible new gadget for dog-lovers.

Bow-lingual dog translator

The manufacturer of the Bow-lingual communication device claims that it translates a dog’s whines, barks, and growls. Made by Takara, Japan’s third-largest toymaker, the Bow-lingual works through a microphone that latches to the dog’s collar. The microphone then transmits “bark data” via infrared signals to a handheld processor and LCD called the “emotion pager,” which is carried by the dog’s handler.

Emotional translation

The barks are separated into one of six emotional categories. Phrases such as “I’m annoyed” or “I’ve done it!” convey the dog’s message through the LCD. The Bow-lingual uses 200 words to express the dog’s feelings, together with relevant pictures. The device was developed in conjunction with the Japan Acoustic Lab and the mobile phone contents provider Index. The companies took the task seriously, collecting about 2,000 sounds from 100 dogs. To correctly interpret the noises of each individual dog, the handler must input the dog’s breed, age, and gender into the Bow-lingual.

Heading overseas

First sold in February 2002, the Bow-lingual costs 12,800 yen, or $103. Takara Toys is also considering a version of the Bow-lingual that works with cellphones instead of with the separate handheld emotion pager. The toy is manufactured and sold only in Japan, but Takara is considering marketing the product outside of the island nation, especially since the Bow-lingual is receiving worldwide media attention.

Other plans for the technology

Takara has designed a system tentatively named “Bow-lingual mail” that automatically emails translations of a dog’s barks to its owner. Also in the works is a pet translator for cats — a much tougher proposition, unless all the cat says is, “Everything in here is mine.”

Posted August 12, 2002

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