A Japanese toy maker claims to have developed a gadget that translates dog barks into human language and plans to begin selling the product under the name Bowlingual in U.S. pet stores, gift shops and retail outlets this summer.
Tokyo-based Takara Co. Ltd. says about 300,000 of the dog translator devices have been sold since its launch in Japan late last year. It is forecasting far bigger sales once an English-language version comes to America in August.
The United States is home to about 67 million dogs, more than six times the number in Japan.
“We know that the Americans love their dogs so much, so we don’t think they will mind spending $120 on this product,” Masahiko Kajita, a Takara marketing manager, said during an interview at a recent pet products convention in Atlanta.
Cited as one of the coolest inventions of 2002 by Time magazine, Bowlingual consists of a 3-inch long wireless microphone that attaches to a dog collar and transmits sounds to a palm-sized console that is linked to a database.
The console classifies each woof, yip or whine into six emotional categories happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, assertion and desire and displays common phrases, such as “You’re ticking me off,” that fit the dog’s emotional state.
I can only assume that the editors at Time magazine do not have much experience with dogs. Dogs are probably the most nakedly expressive creatures on the planet; a $120 device which translates their emotional state is pretty much the dictionary definition of “redundancy.”