Dog Collar Claims to "Translate" Dog Barks; Experts Are Dubious

By Allison Bond | August 6, 2009 4:42 pm

barking dogIn the recent Pixar movie Up, a group of dogs wear collars that translates their barks into humans words. Such a device is no longer just the stuff of animation: One is about to be, er, unleashed by a Japanese company that claims its collar can give humans a glimpse into Fido’s emotions.

But although the device would certainly be useful—wouldn’t it be helpful to know how your pup is feeling?—most experts are skeptical about whether the collar, called Bowlingual Voice, actually works. ABC reports:

The device includes a microphone worn around a dog’s neck and a separate digital reader that — the company says — translates barks into one of six emotional states: happy, sad, frustrated, threatening, needy or assertive…. [The developers] provided “research and development and consulting as well as aiding speech, acoustics and radio waves” for the Bowlingual Voice’s creation….

“It’s a cute idea,” said [organismic and evolutionary biologist] Kathryn Lord… “But it’s hard to see the world or feel the world like [dogs] do. When we say a dog feels something, it’s probably not exactly that.”

A consensus of experts agrees that while many humans have long yearned for the ability to communicate with animals, the concept is a myth that is both “crude” and “simplistic.” Still, that likely won’t keep pet-lovers from trying…

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Image: flickr / TheGiantVermin

MORE ABOUT: dogs, language, pets, technology
  • Brian

    Remember in Finding Nemo, when the seagulls mostly just said “Mine!” and the crabs mostly said “Hey!”.

    If we ever do translate dog, I bet we find out that Finding Nemo had it right (simple, repetitious vocabulary).

  • Pingback: Finally, Something To Translate What Pelosi Really Means | Democrat = Socialist()

  • Grant H

    Isn’t it funny that when we see a dog who is behaving happily, we know it’s happy. When we see a dog who’s behaving sadly, we know it’s sad.
    Us humans can look at a dog and interpret its body language. Strange in a way. Like an ancient understanding that two different species have with each other.

  • Christina Viering

    I am sure this will be a big seller!

  • Gadfly

    Grant – I agree and it goes both ways. Some studies have indicated dogs read human body language better than other humans do. Let’s face it, they’ve evolved alongside us for, what’s the latest estimate? Like a hundred thousand years? Survival of the fittest gives us a modern dog that is pretty darn good at knowing what we’re up to. And I can tell from the dog’s posture and tone what it wants. I don’t need a collar to know when my dog is “needy”, he tells me.

  • Dave

    Anyone who needs an electronic gadget to tell if their dog is happy, sad, frustrated, threatening, needy or assertive should probably not have a dog to begin with.

  • Larry Gillihan

    I’ve owned dogs all my life, and they do communicate with barks and growls things that we would never have guessed they would know. Animals are a lot smarter than we think they are.

  • Camellia

    I agree and so does my dog, Ziggy, she just told me that this is a great article and is still very excited about purchasing one. Does it come in leopard skin she just asked as it would suit her shiny black coat.she is also very keen on the diamond idea too.

  • Kerry Tarpey

    I don’t get it


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