I have a pet dog. Sometimes I wonder what if pets can talk in real-life like the 'Cats and Dogs' movie? Wouldn't it be easy for them to express pain and happiness? Would this even be possible? Guess the answer is YES!
Yes! It's true! With the recent technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), this dream is not distant anymore.AI is a game-changer and has proven to be the disruptor in every field possible. Using AI, we can decode and understand the age-old and ancient languages, predict our searches, and may even have a conversation with our animals in the future.
How was research helpful?
Researchers tried to decode the Marmosets (a monkey species), which have around 10 to 15 different types of high-pitched calls. They concluded that each has a unique meaning, and they make these calls to communicate according to the situation.
Prairie dogs (a type of rodent) also make high-pitched sounds to alert the group to the presence of a threat. The calls are precise and unique to each threat. Prairie dogs alert the group about the predator's size with these calls.
What does the current technology offer?
The current market offers a few products and apps that help us understand and communicate with our dogs only. The manufacturers say that these devices are not very accurate and should consider them for playful means only.
In 2020, a Japan-based company unveiled their product called Inupathy, the first mental visualizer for dogs. It is a harness that can identify the mood of your pet by tracking the heart rate. Based on their mood, it suggests the type of games you can play with the dog.
Voice- print analysis technology can identify the emotion by the sound made by the dog. Bow Lingual uses this technology. It has a tiny receiver attached to the dog's collar and another hand-held LCD device that displays an appropriate phrase after analyzing the bark.
Purromm Smart collar
The collar captures a photo of your pet to identify its mood by assessing its ears or mouth. They claim that this works on all other animals too.
A collar with a built-in microphone, where you will get texts about what your pet is thinking based on the sound, movements, body position. However, this needs internet access and your smartphone to use.
No more woof
It is still a work-in-progress and is a kind of a headset that translates the dog barks into English by using brain waves, and you can hear the words through the loudspeaker. However, this isn't quite viable because of its design, as it can be displaced or removed easily by the dog.
A few apps are available on Google and Apple stores that need the internet to translate from human-animal and vice versa. But their interpretation is not considered accurate.
Dog whistle and Dog translator are two apps that can be used and controlled with Alexa.
A few apps like Person and dog translator, Human to dog translator, and Dog translator simulator can translate human words into a language understood by dogs.
What does the future have to offer?
Dr.Peter Robinson developed an AI- algorithm that can identify the pain in sheep by using photographs of their facial expression like lips, folded ears, etc. Research is in progress to emulate the same in the case of other pet animals too. His team is using cameras and AI-enabled computer systems to spot sick animals easily with facial expressions.
With the help of Google Translate and AI, our communication with animals may improve too.
Another promising technology is Brain Imaging. fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is very effective in studying the state of mind by looking at human brain activity. fMRI can be easily used in animals because we can train the dogs to remain still inside the MRI machines.
With the current technology, we may not have effective communication with the animals because we still cannot decipher everything the animals say. We are also unsure if they completely understand what we try to say in our language. And as of now, the experiments are limited to pets like sheep, dogs, cats, and elephants. Ethical and social concerns also primary reasons why we need much more research in this technology.
With technology getting better day by day, we can be confident that we will communicate and interact with animals in the future. It will be easy to spot an illness early and care for the animals effectively. Understanding the reason behind their behavior and expressions will help us understand their emotions in a better way. Understanding their language will not only help us treat them with compassion but also help us keep our animals healthy and happy!
All the animal-lovers, especially dog lovers like myself, would find it interesting to have a conversation with our fur buddies. I am eagerly looking forward to that day in the future!