No More Woof claims to translate dogs' barks into human speech. Photo: Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery, Indiegogo
Christmas just came early for Doctor Doolittle, and anyone else who would like to talk with the animals. A curious translation prototype for dogs called No More Woof has earned the $US10,000 ($11,250) funding it was seeking on Indiegogo, and an extra $US5000 with two months to go.
If the headset looks familiar, that's because it is. Lightweight electroencephalography (EEG) headsets that measure brain activity, and translates the mental states they read there, have been around for years. A start-up called Emotiv produced a $US300 version designed for gaming back in 2009, and a more advanced headband called Muse is about to go on sale.
Doug the dog in Up has a collar that translates his thoughts into human speech.
If the concept of applying a device to a dog that tells you what it's thinking sounds familiar, it's probably because you saw it in Pixar's Up. Look, squirrel!
No More Woof appears to be in its very early stages; the Indiegogo video from a Swedish lab called the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery is full of unintentionally hilarious moments. But the company claims it has already been able to translate certain canine mental states from their electric imprints, such as suspicion of a stranger.
"Some of the most easily detected neural patterns are: 'I'm tired', 'I'm curious who that is' and 'I'm excited'," NSID writes on its Indiegogo page. "To be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too."
All translatable dog thoughts will appear in audio form via the gramophone-like plastic trumpet attached to the headset. Sadly, NSID doesn't even give us an example of what the speech will sound like, so we don't know if it resembles Doug the dog from Up.
But the lab's founders do spend an inordinate amount of time showing us that their dogs are happy to be wearing the headset in the first place. "No animals have ever or will ever be harmed in our experiments," NSID says. "No More Woof is a 110 per cent animal-friendly technology."
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