Will Google Translate Ever Work with Animal Sounds?

Google Translate is a free multilingual neural machine translation service developed by Google, designed to translate text and websites from one language into another. It offers a website interface and a mobile app for Android and iOS. As of January 2021, Google Translate supports 109 languages at various levels and as of April 2016, claimed over 500 million total users, with more than 100 billion words translated daily.

Pretty impressive numbers, but maybe it’s not that special. After all, it only deals with translating from one human language to another.

Now if it could take a dog’s bark or a cat’s meow, that would be something special.

I know it sounds crazy, but two companies are doing just that.

The South Korean company Petpuls has developed an artificial-intelligence powered dog collar which contains an algorithm that can determine a dog’s five emotional states: happy, relaxed, anxious, angry, or sad. The more barking data they get, the more accurate the results. Currently, the collar compares a dog’s bark to a database of more than 10-thousand samples from 50 breeds of canines, big and small. The Petpuls smart collar sells for 99 dollars.

U.S. company Akvelon developed similar technology to translate a cat’s meow.

MeowTalk helps you understand what your cat is trying to communicate to you.  According to experts, every cat has a unique vocabulary, and cats are active and sophisticated communicators.  Each cat has a distinct “meow” for necessary phrases like “feed me” or “let me out.”  They also have distinct meows for lesser-but-still-important phrases like “play with me.”  Just as with human language, these meows follow patterns and constitute a language.

With MeowTalk’s free app, you can create a profile for your cat and start using its auto-recognition to translate your cat’s meows and start mapping its language.  While some translations are built-in and inherent to the app, translations specific to your cat require you to train the app to recognize your cat’s specific vocabulary and intentions.  Translations you deem to be incorrect can be corrected via the app. MeowTalk is not static; instead, it learns and evolves with each translation that you confirm, adding to its corpus, just as we would add new words into our own memory banks or language processing programs.

So while Google Translate may be falling behind in the cross-species market, perhaps once these dog and cat apps are further refined and a market for such products develops, Google can step in and offer help in translating what a Spanish dog’s bark means in English and what a French cat’s meow is trying to convey to someone who only speaks German…