Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Dog-bark translator digging for bones in locations overseas

AFP , TOKYO

Dog owners will be able to better understand their pets after the maker of a computerized gadget that interprets the warp and woof of a dog's life for its owner will be marketed next June, a spokesman for the device's maker said yesterday.

Bowlingual, first unveiled in August last year by major toymaker Takara Co Ltd, was a smash hit when it went on sale in Japan in late September, the company said.

Domestic sales have topped 30,000, with the company aiming for 300,000 by next March, while overseas interest has gone barking mad. The gadget comprises an 8cm microphone attached to a dog collar, and transmits sounds to a palm-sized console held by the dog's master.

The console, equipped with a small display, immediately classifies the sounds into six emotional categories: frustration, menace, joy, sorrow, demand, and self-expression.

Then the display shows phrases that fit the emotional state of the dog, such as "I am sad. I want to play," and "I am super angry. I am going to explode!"

Time magazine has dubbed the device one of the best inventions of 2002, while the US-based science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research awarded Bowlingual its 2002 Ig Nobel Peace Prize for promoting harmony between the species.

"Since we began selling the product in Japan, we have received a lot of inquiries from overseas," said Takara spokesman Seiichi Kodama. "Our product has become a hot topic abroad and our name recognition has been high."

Takara will release the product in South Korea next June.

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