‘Pet Translator’ under development by scientists to instigate communication
4 mins read

‘Pet Translator’ under development by scientists to instigate communication

Scientists have been trying to decode animal language to enable a smooth conversation between pets and their owners. Researchers have recently taken interest in the animal kingdom to help understand their way of conversation and the message behind each and every sound being produced.

A new technology is being developed that could one day convert a simple bark into an understandable language that could help humans decode the mysterious “Bow-wow” or “Meow” of their pets. This particular research is being developed under the leadership of Con Slobodchikoff who is a professor at the Northern Arizona University. He has been studying and observing the language and communication pattern of the prairie dogs for 30 years now.

Slobodchikoff is implementing the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to accurately decode the pattern of the complex growls, howls, and barks. He is hopeful that one day he might easily decode the numerous patterns of wags and growls by dogs, cats, and other similar animals.

His book named,“ Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals” stated that animals and humans have a scope for direct communication in 10 years or so. With the help of his colleagues, Slobodchikoff has started a company which has been named “Zoolingua” to help understand the complexity of animal language and decodes the same. This will help him develop a technology that will help build a bridge of communication between animals and humans.

The research shows that the animal kind has so much more to teach us about various signs and signals. Most of the research has been done so far to teach animals our human language. The same cannot be said for the animal kingdom. Numerous studies have shown that animals belonging to different species communicate with each other like squid, squabbles, monkeys, lizards, etc. Animals use languages that are unique as well as highly adaptive. A deep understanding of these complicated languages might someday enable us to decode what these neighbors of ours want to convey. The language used in animal kind is one of the factors separating the mankind from the wildlife.

The study done by Slobodchikoff over the prairie dogs for a duration of more than 30 years has attracted the attention of numerous media houses including an hour-long documentary on Animal Planet and BBC. His book can help open up a new way of perceiving the animal kind by means of research, examples and associated conclusions.

The book also features research conducted with the help of co-authors Jennifer L. Verdolin, a researcher from the State University at New York in Stony Brook and Bianca Perla, an ecologist from the University of Washington. It reveals that animals might even be smarter while holding more importance to the environment as compared to human beings.

The book was constructed to help bring attention to the ongoing reduction of the number of prairie dogs which might essentially lead to their extinction. Prairie dogs are mostly responsible for holding together the energy and food web of the ecosystem in grassland. Upon extinction of this species, other species shall face major consequences.

The 15-inch tall prairie dogs might be small but hold key significance for other 200 species like insects, owls, hawks, snakes and so on. The barks, chirps, and yips of the prairie dogs contain a minimum of 100 words in totality. The communication pattern used by the prairie dogs could easily describe the shape, size as well as the color of the oncoming predator. They can easily distinguish between a dog or a coyote by communicating through their barks or chirps.

Recently prairie dogs are declining in number due to the uncontrolled climate change. These species essentially help in preventing land erosion by burrowing through while helping bring down the temperature of surrounding area. This future technology might essentially help us understand what these animals want to convey us through their sounds.