Scientist working on 'pet translator' to understand 'animal talk'
16 January 2018
Pet owners at times feel their pets do understand what they want to communicate with their pets, but they can hardly understand what their pets want to convey when they bark or meow.
However, it might be possible to understand the meaning of ''animal talk'' thanks to the efforts of Northern Arizona University professor emeritus of biology Con Slobodchikoff, who is working on a ''pet translator'' that converts a dog's barks and growls into human language.
For over three decades, Slobodchikoff has been studying the communication patterns of prairie dogs, and as NBC News noted, all those years observing the animals has led him to believe that the animals have their own advanced language.
For instance, prairie dogs are known to vary their high-pitched warning calls if a predator is in the area, depending on the type or size of the creature. They could also combine their calls in a number of ways, with some call patterns supposedly capable of identifying the colour of the outfit a nearby human is wearing.
Drawing on his experience studying prairie dogs and understanding their language, Slobodchikoff teamed up with a computer scientist with whom he had been working, to develop an algorithm that could convert the rodents' cries and calls into English.
''I thought, if we can do this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats,'' Slobodchikoff told NBC News.
Slobodchikoff and his team are studying thousands of videos of dogs to analyse their different barks and body movements.
The videos will be used to teach an AI algorithm about the communication signals.
The team has, however, still not come up with an algorithm for understanding the meaning behind each bark or tail wag.