The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, November 20, 2003, Image 5

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The Battalion
Page 5A • Thursday, November 20, 2003
Shut up and listen
Your dog will be talking with the Bow-Lingual Dog Translator in stores now
By Amelia Williamson
People have often wondered what a dog would
ay if it could talk. This question may be answered
the introduction of the Bow-Lingual Dog
jranslator, a device that claims to translate dogs’
[arks. Bow-Lingual sells for $119 at PETsMART
ith catchy slogans such as, “Giving dogs a voice
iey never had” and “Your dog has something to
ijell you.”
I The translator appeals to the immense curiosi-
people have about what dogs are thinking and
:eling and what they mean when they bark.
“I think that (Bow-Lingual) sounds neat,” said
freshman education major Katherine Etchison. “I
would love to know how my dog is feeling when
she barks.”
Shoppers may wonder how the gadget works
and if it really is accurate.
Matsumi Suzuki, president of the Japan
Acoustic Laboratory, was the main researcher in
the development of Bow-Lingual. He recorded
samples of dog barks and, while analyzing them,
found that there were distinct acoustic patterns in
the barks, according to the Bow-Lingual Web site, Using this as his starting
point, Suzuki expanded his sampling of dog barks,
recording thousands of bark samples from more
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she barks.
than 80 breeds of dogs using digital sound
recorders and video recorders.
Dr. Norio Kogure, an animal behaviorist, vet
erinarian and the president of Kogure Companion
Animal Clinic in Tokyo, Japan, helped to classify
the dog bark samples into basic emotional cate
gories. He studied the video and audio samples of
the dog barks and, by examining the different
barks and the behavior of the dogs while barking,
he came up with six emotional categories: happy,
sad, on-guard, frustrated,
assertive and needy. Some of the
barks did not fall specifically into
one of these six categories, but by
looking at the categories the bark
resembled and the behavior of the
dog, Kogure fit each bark into one
of the six categories.
Once the foundation of emo
tional categories was established,
Suzuki converted the samples of
dog barks into digital voiceprints,
using a Fast Fourier Transform
(EFT) analyzer, which breaks a
sound into its frequency compo
nents. He then classified each
voiceprint as showing one of the
six basic emotions, taking the breed of the dog
into consideration, as indicated on the Bow-
Lingual Web site.
Suzuki created a system called the Animal
Emotion Analysis System (AEAS) that converts
any dog bark into a voiceprint and identifies the
emotion that the voiceprint most closely matches.
He took into account the fact that not all breeds of
dogs are pure and that the size of a dog and the
length of a dog’s snout affect the acoustic charac
teristics of that dog’s bark. So he created acoustic
profiles for six generic types of dogs: large, medi
um or small dogs with either long or short snouts.
When Suzuki applied barks from the generic types
of dogs to the AEAS, the results were not as accu
rate as they were for the pure breeds, but still
seemed to classify the bark into the correct emo
tion category most of the time, according to the
Bow-Lingual Web site.
Suzuki recognized that the voiceprint of a
dog’s bark changes as the dog ages. A dog’s voice
changes often when it is a puppy, so the results are
I think that
sounds neat. I would
love to know how my
dog is feeling when
— Katherine Etchison
freshman education major
not as accurate for young dogs as they are for
adult dogs.
According to the Bow-Lingual Web site, prod
uct designers from the Takara Corporation, a
Japanese company, worked with Suzuki to create
a wireless microphone that fits on a dog’s collar
and a handheld unit, containing a receiver, EFT
analyzer, microcomputer, simple keyboard and a
liquid crystal display interface, to translate the
barks. The device was tested and adjusted until it
was as accurate as the equipment
Suzuki used in his laboratory.
Takara’s designers consulted
with Kogure to determine which
phrases could be used to corre
spond with the six different emo
tions. Takara came up with more
than 200 translation phrases to cor
respond with the emotions.
The Bow-Lingual handheld
device picks up bark transmissions
from the microphone on the dog’s
collar from up to 30 feet away and
displays the matching emotion and
a phrase that fits with the emotion.
The Bow-Lingual Dog
Translator also has a body lan
guage mode that allows a person to choose the
type of body language he wants to know about:
ears, eyes, mouth, behavior, fur and tail. It then
displays different actions associated with the type
of body language and what the action means in
terms of what the dog is thinking when it displays
certain body language.
An additional feature of the dog translator is
the home alone mode that records a dog’s barks
and emotions for up to 12 hours while its owner is
away. The Bow-Lingual Web site explains that
this feature allows a person to know how his dog
was feeling while they were away.
Some people are skeptical about a device
that claims to translate a dog’s barks and ques
tion its accuracy.
“Barking is one form of vocal communication
(in dogs) but is limited primarily to general mes
sages that denote such things as excitement, not
specific messages such as occur in human
See Bow-Lingual on page 2
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