By Dr. Becker
Most of us who share our lives with dogs have on occasion yearned to know what our canine companions are thinking. This is especially true when we know something's wrong and are helpless to figure out what it is. If your dog has ever suddenly cried out in pain, you know what I'm talking about.
And there are probably other less stressful situations in which you would love to know what your pet is thinking. For example, when he parks himself next to you for no obvious reason, pleading with his eyes for who-knows-what. Or when he stands still like a statue, head down, staring intently at a bit of fluff on the floor. Or when she starts barking maniacally at a rock in the backyard. Wouldn't it be nice to know what's behind those amusing but decidedly weird canine behaviors?
Well, we could be in luck. It seems a group of Scandinavian scientists are working on a headset for dogs that could enable our canine friends to converse with us... sort of.
The 'No More Woof' Claims to Translate EEG Signals from a Dog's Brain Into Human Language
The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (NSID) is developing a device called "No More Woof" that will hopefully allow dogs to tell their humans when they're hungry or need to go out. According to the website:
"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."
Simply put, No More Woof translates EEG signals from a dog's brain into human language through a speaker.
This is possible, according to the designers, because the brain of every mammal emits specific electrical signals, or neural patterns, that define certain mental states, including the state of being tired, hungry, needing to urinate, and curiosity about an unfamiliar being or object in the immediate environment. Dogs don't actually form the thought "I'm tired" as humans do, but because their brains are less complex than ours, their neural patterns are more distinct for certain types of feelings like anger, curiosity, or tiredness.
Prototypes Are Available for Pre-Order
The No More Woof is very much still a work in progress, and one of the challenges the inventors face is figuring out the best location for the EEG monitor to provide maximum results as well as comfort for the dog. There may also be ethical and social concerns that will need to be addressed.
Currently, the company is taking pre-orders of prototypes to help fund ongoing research. "Right now we are only scraping the surface of possibilities; the project is only in its cradle. And to be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too," says the website.
There are Micro ($65), Standard ($300) and Superior ($1,200) models of the No More Woof available for pre-order, ranging from a single-sensor device capable of distinguishing 2-3 thought patterns, up to a "premium mini-speaker implemented in a golden dog-tag with engraving of your choice."
You can learn more about the No More Woof at the product website, and decide for yourself what you think of the gadget. As for me, for now I think I'll stick with observing body language to pick up what my dogs are puttin' down!