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A device that lets dogs speak - "No More Woof"

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I read about this on Language Log and looked into it a bit.  "No More Woof" is an small EEG device that reads dogs brain signals and transforms them into vocalizations through a little computer and speaker on the device.

The description on their website (www.nomorewoof.com) says:

"The first device to translate animal thoughts into human language. No More Woof is a small gadget that uses the latest technology in micro computing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spell them out in Human Language using a loudspeaker."

Here's a video by the designers showing a bit about the product:


What do you think?  It's not really 'dog language' in that it's unintentional thought process that human technology is doing the interpreting of - but that doesn't detract from how amazingly cool it is!!! How about one for babies?  Or one for cats, complete with swearing?

They are still in the first stage of their research, so they are encouraging people to buy one to be part of the research process so they can improve later models.

I want one though.  And a dog...

There's an inherent flaw: the translations are based on our observations. So the device, at best, creates accurate translations of what we'd believe the dog is intending to say. This is a major communication barrier.

But it's certainly fun. Maybe more? Certainly it could be a step on the way to more.

Edit: thinking about it a bit more, the problem is that it isn't two-way communication. I wonder if it will ever evolve to allow anything like a conversation. One very odd thing is that it's reading the dogs thoughts, not "speech".

Also, does it intend to stop barking? If so, how? I mean, will dogs magically stop barking because they understand that they're making human noises? Seems odd. I guess that idea is that it clarifies why they are barking so you can solve the problem faster. ...assuming it's accurate and that you want to solve the problem at that moment. Do many dog owners really have a problem understanding, for example, that the dog wants attention? I'd imagine not.

I wonder what Con Slobodchikoff (the prairie dog guy) would have to say about something like this.

There is nothing serious about this study. It certainly doesn't know what dogs think. It's nonsense!

^Really?  Why wouldn't it work?

If the eeg device is picking up on repeated patterns, and it could for certain emotions or thought processes, it could surely alert us with a vocal recording when the pattern is made.

It's the same logic used in a prosthetic limb which is informed by brain signals for how to move.

At least in human EEG and MEG studies, electrical activity from muscle movements (such as eye movements) tends to swamp brain activity recordings of interest, and signals are subjected to post-processing algorithms to remove these artifacts before analysis. The same issue should arise with ear movements and eye movements in dogs, but the pictures show electrodes right on top of the ears and right next to the eyes, and they are marketing devices with one or two electrodes. I don't think (although I'm not absolutely positive) that the current artifact rejection technologies can work with such a small number of sensors that are right on top of the muscles. I suspect that the general patterns they say they have found are just indicators of when the ears or eyes have moved.


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