Retailer backs futurologists allegation that devices conversing in canine will be available in, ruffly speaking, a decade
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah, as Dr Doolittle once sang what a neat accomplishment this is gonna be. Well, Amazon has revealed that the animal-loving doctors ambition might not be entirely fantasy.
Pet translators that can become woofs into words and make sense of miaows, might really be on the horizon, according to a report backed by the internet retailer.
Futurologist William Higham of Next Big Thing, who co-authored the report for Amazon, says he believes devices that can talk puppy could be less than 10 years away.
Innovative products that succeed are based around a genuine and major customer needs. The amount of money now spent on pets they are becoming fur babes to so many people means there is huge consumer demand for this. Somebody is going to put this together, he says.
Higham pointed to the work being done by Con Slobodchikoff, prof emeritus at government departments of biological science at Northern Arizona University, who has expended 30 times analyse the behaviour of prairie puppies, which are actually not dogs at all but north American rodents.
The author of Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Discovering the Language of Animalsused AI software to help analyse prairie dog calls, find they had a sophisticated communication system that has all the aspects of language.
They have words for different species of predator and can describe the color of clothes of a human, or the coating of coyotes or dogs ., Slobodchikoff says.
He is now so convinced that other animals use similarly decipherable language that he is attempting to raise money to develop a feline and dog translation machine.
Slobodchikoff says: So many people would dearly love to talk to their puppy or cat or at the least find out what they are trying to communicate. A plenty of people talk to their dogs and share their innermost secrets. With cats Im not sure what theyd have to say. A plenty of times it might just be you moronic, merely feed me and leave me alone.
During the past few years, advances in the field of machine learning contributed to dramatic improvements in automatic speech recognition and translation. Algorithms learn to interpret language by teaching on huge datasets rather than being pre-programmed with a situated of inflexible rules.
But Juliane Kaminski, a psychologist at Portsmouth University who works on interactions between humans and puppies, is less optimistic that we will soon be able to decipher barks and bow-wows principally because she does not think that the route a puppy woofs can be viewed as different languages. We would not describe dogs forms of communication as language in the scientific appreciation, she mentions. But: They do give out rudimentary signals of what they want and how theyre thought.
For instance, she tells, a right-sided tail wag is positive while a wag to the left not so positive. Thats something humen might not so easily pick up on, said Kaminski although a translation machine might have difficulty spotting that, too.
Dogs barks, she tells, are also context specific. They give out different yaps and yowls during play, aggressivenes, when they are missing their owner and so on, but even people who have never owned a bird-dog are fairly good at deciphering these utterances.
Kaminski says a translation machine might construct things easier for people who lack intuition or young children who misinterpret signals sometimes quite significantly..
One study, for instance, found that when young children were proven a picture of a puppy with menacingly bared teeth, they concluded that the dog was happy and smiling and that they would like to hug it. An interpreting device might be able to warn of danger.
Amazon already sells one machine that transfers a human voice into miaows utilizing samples from 25 cats( One review mentions the feline seems puzzled ). And the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery, a small Scandinavian research lab led by artists and marketeers, attempted to develop a bird-dog translation machine called No More Woof only a few years ago. The programme was put on pause according to co-founder Per Cromwell when they realised the scale of the challenge.
The gadget, which looked like a Madonna-style headset, supposedly measured brain activity to help communicate what the dog was imagining via a talker on their collar. It needed more research, acknowledges Cromwell who has gone on to instead develop bicycle-powered mobile coffee stalls.
Tomas Mazetti, who was also involved in the project, said: It was extremely limited. It could tell you the dog was tired or angry. But you are able to various kinds of should be noted that anyway.