A Translation Headset for Dogs?

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In this week’s edition of “weird translation news,” we bring you “No More Woof,” a translation headset for dogs.  No, really.

The project is under development by a Swedish group of researchers and designers who call themselves the “Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery,” and it’s already fully funded on Indiegogo with over a month left to go.

According to the Indiegogo project page,

“No More Woof aims to develop a small gadget that uses the latest technology in micro computing and EEG to analyse animal thought patterns and spell them out in Human Language* using a loudspeaker.”

So, basically, as Mashable has already pointed out, it’s like Doug the dog’s headset from Up. 

Once complete, the headset will supposedly be able to translate your dog’s thoughts directly into your choice of English, Mandarin, French or Spanish. You’ll also be able to choose from a set of “personas” for your dog, each with its own voice and catchphrases.

Is this really going to work? So far, according to the inventors (who do stress that they are in the earliest stages of development and can make no promises), they have been able to “translate” four different brain patterns:

“I’m Tired”, “I’m excited” and possibly “I’m Hungry” and the clearly intense brain activity when a dog sees a new face, that we translate into: “Who ARE you?”

I admit, as much as I’d love to know what my dogs are thinking, my pups have no trouble communicating these “brain states” to me, no silly-looking headset required.  As unimpressive as these initial results might be, NSID sees them as a gateway to future “two way communication” with dogs and other animals, like dolphins.

Or maybe not. As Language Log points out, translating brainwaves through EEG is an uncertain science:

“Given the well-known difficulties of doing reproducible “mind reading” from human EEG signals (i.e. without carefully adapting to the current electrode placement, and somehow avoiding the problem of distinguishing EEG from EMG), I’m not hopeful about what will happen if someone plunks down their $600 and does the experiment. “

Would you buy a translation headset for your dog?