Dog translator barks up the right tree
By staff and wire reports
TOKYO, Japan -- Man has always had trouble understanding exactly what his best friend is trying to say.
But a new gadget released in Japan is trying to reduce the lingual divide between dog and its owner.
Creatively called "Bow-lingual", the hand-held electronic device claims to gauge a dog's mood by listening to its bark.
Released by Takara Co Ltd, Japan's third-largest toy maker, the invention uses a microphone on the dog's collar to record the bark.
An infra-red voice print is then beamed to the owners 'emotion pager' -- a small liquid crystal display that shows how the dog feels
Gauging six emotions, the "Bow-lingual" uses 200 words to relay to the owner the dog's feeling together with the relevant pictures.
"Happy", "fun", "annoyed" and "frustrated" are just a few of the options.
Curious owners can even get a description of the dog's emotions during the day by using the "Dog diary" mode.
Developed in conjunction with the Japan Acoustic Lab and mobile phone contents provider Index Corp., the "Bow-lingual" is planned to hit Japan's store shelves in February 2002, retailing for 12,800 yen ($103).
Masami Ochiai, president of Index Corp., expects sales of 200,000 units.
"This is not about communication between two human beings, instead we asked ourselves if it was possible to communicate with animals . . . and our answer to that is that it is possible," Ochiai told Reuters news agency.
Given that one in two people in Japan has a mobile phone, the company is also looking at beaming the dog-translations to mobile phones.
It is also considering marketing the product outside Japan.
Who knows, in a years time, "woof woof" may get a variety of new meanings.
Takara shares closed Wednesday 1.15 percent higher at 1,580 yen, outperforming a 1.26 percent decline in the key Nikkei 225 share average.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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