A Talking Dog Device?

The animated movie “Up” was hilarious. One of the funniest aspects was the fact the dogs had been fitted with devices allowing them to talk. The fierce Doberman stuck with the defective device that gave him a high pitched voice was tear jerking funny. Ah, but is there any hope of every really using technology to allow dogs to talk? Perhaps…

Oh, Scandinavia…

Scientists in Scandinavia are trying to design a headset that could enable dogs to communicate with their owners. The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery’s (NSID) No More Woof project is seeking to develop technology that can distinguish canine thought patterns and then issue them as short sentences via a microphone.

Yes, this is real.

According to NSID, “The brainwaves differ quite a lot from different races as well as individual dogs. However, it is possible to detect some common patterns and we have no doubt that in the future this technology will open up a vast new era of communication between dogs and humans, or animals in general and humans.”

The research team also reports, “No More Woof is the result of combining the latest technologies in three different tech-areas: electroencephalography (EEG), sensoring, micro computing, and special brain-computer interface software.”

Sensors in the headset detect electric signals in the brainwaves of the dog. A built-in processing device analyses the signal patterns and deciphers them into distinct emotions such as anger, curiosity, or fatigue. Those in turn will be programmed into simple sentences—I’m hungry – but I don’t like this. Who is that?—and sent through a speaker. Initially, English translations will be available with French and Spanish language headsets to follow.

There is still an assortment of issues to be worked out, however, before the headsets become commercially available. This includes how the sensors can read the brain signals without actually being inserted into the brain – a rather major hurdle.

However, for early adopters, the headsets are already available for pre-purchase as part of a research funding campaign. There are three options of varying functionality and price: $65 for the micro, $300 for the standard version, and $1,200 for the superior customizable mini-speaker. In addition, the researchers are also working to develop a reverse headset that “translates” human intent into barks.

The researchers add: “Right now we are only scraping the surface of possibilities. The first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too.”

So, will you soon be able to speak with your French Bulldog or Newfoundland? I’ll let my pup answer that one – “Woof.”

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