Computer Interprets Dogs' Barks
A Hungarian scientist has developed computer software that interprets the barks of a certain breed of Hungarian dog. This is exciting news, especially for so many dog owners who are convinced their pets are saying intricate and purposeful things whenever they bark. Turns out, they may be right.
The software analyzes distinct barks that indicate the emotional state of the Hungarian Mudi herding breed (pictured above) in six situations: when the dog is alone, when it sees a ball, when it fights, when it plays, when it encounters a stranger or when it goes for a walk.
Not quite a full range vocabulary but it's a start. Down the road, he and colleagues expect the software to be applicable in consumer products to allow easy human-dog dialog.
For now, though, the software was only three percent better than humans at correctly determining which of the six scenarios was in play while one of the dogs barked, so it may be a while before you can find out specifically what your canine pal really thinks of the new chew toy you got him.
But wait. We seem to remember a little toy from a few years ago called the Bow-lingual. A little digging confirms this device from Japan's Takara company, which was clearly marketed as a toy, claimed to interpret dog barks and relay statements like, "I'm feeling great!" or "Come on, play with me!" Interestingly enough, the toy maker also determined there were six distinct vocal patterns do be identified within dogs' barks and took into account the differences between the barks of 50 breeds. Impressive. To our disappointment, the official Bow-lingual Web site is no longer active. (But back in 2003, the folks at ExtremeTech took a close look at the toy.) And cat lovers, don't feel left out -- there was also a Meow-lingual.
As for the Hungarian scientist, he says there is work to be done and improvements to be made to his software. The first thing we want him to do is develop a program that automatically helps us understand his Hungarian accent so we can figure out what else he's been saying.
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