We all think we know what our dogs are saying to us. We make up voices and sometimes have conversations with them. We study their body language and fall for their little puppy dog eyes. We all know we really don’t have a clue what they are trying to communicate to us, but imagine if you did! Imagine if your dog could tell you that they want to go for a walk or if they really don’t like the food you are feeding them. I know what you are going to say, “it’s impossible, it can’t be done, stop wasting our time with foolish ideas.”
But what if it wasn’t foolish? What if I told you that researchers today, working in the artificial intelligence, believe it may be possible in ten years to have a device that can translate your dog’s bark and body language into actual human words. \
It turns out that researchers are already working on AI systems that are trying to translate dozens of call from marmoset monkeys and they are also using AI to read sheep’s faces to tell if the animal is in pain. Some researchers are so bold to say that in ten years we will have devices that can translate for our pets as well. Ten years!
Now let’s take this exciting discovery a step closer to dogs. For over 30 years, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, a professor emeritus of biology at Northern Arizona University and the author of “Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals,” has been studying how prairie dogs communicate with each other. Over years of studying them in the field, Dr. Slobodchikoff noticed that prairie dogs utilize a series of high pitch calls to alert their group to predators. He went on to find out that the calls were different for each predator that threatened their community. Armed with this knowledge, he went on to create an algorithm that could translate the sounds prairie dogs make to each other when threatened. When his research proved the algorithm was successful, he decided that the same algorithm could also work with dogs and cats. Basically creating a dog and cat translator.
But don’t go and search Amazon for a dog translator yet! Dr. Slobodchikoff, says it will take years to collect the needed data to make the algorithm work for dogs and cats. He said they will have to analyze thousands and thousands of dog videos to identify bark types and body language. But he has hope, due to the fact in the rise of research in the field of dog communications and dog body language, that are using careful experiments rather than guesswork to decipher the true meanings of dog behaviors. Dr. Slobodchinoff’s end goal is to create a device or an app, that can easily be pointed at a dog and translate their barks into English words. For Example, Slobodchiknoff said, “’I want to eat now’…or ‘I want to go for a walk.’”
Now, a finished product is a long way from being developed and there is no guarantee that Dr. Slobodchinoff will be able to achieve his end goal. But, it goes to prove that we all want to find a way to communicate and understand our dog’s needs on a deeper level. We at Digital Doggy hope Dr. Slobodchinoff pulls it off!!