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Canine Electronics: Japan's Bowlingual Goes Global
November 2002
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Takara Company, Ltd., launched its Bowlingual Dog Bark Analysis device in September of 2001 and has since sold 30,000 units. Now the company is expanding its market through an agreement with South Korean distributor and toy producer Sonokong. The unit, according to a iafrica.com's Cooltech, will sell for about U.S. $123. The device will next be marketed in North America and Europe. Takara aims to sell 600,000 units per year in Japan plus 2 million overseas by March 2004.

Bowlingual was developed in a joint effort between Takara, Index Corporation, and the Japan Acoustic Laboratory. All three are based in Tokyo. The product is the first to use the Japan Acoustic Laboratory's Animal Emotion Analysis System, said to be developed using an enormous database of voiceprints and sophisticated voice analysis technology.

Bowlingual is a portable electronics system that includes two devices:

  • a small transmitter that attaches to the dog's collar and transmits the dog bark, using a process that Takara calls Sound Forwarding
  • the primary device, which receives the and analyzes the sound of the bark

    The results of the voice translation are displayed on an LCD screen in words and graphics.

    The analysis system was developed with an expert in animal behavior, Dr. Norio Kogure, a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine and director of the Kogure Animal Hospital. The device draws on studies of canine behavior to categorize sounds into six categories of emotion - happy, sad, frustrated, angry, assertion, and desire.

    The Bowlingual can be set to record the dog's emotions when their owner is away, letting them know his emotional state while alone.

    These features are said to let owners become closer to their pets and encourages them to take an interest in the pets feelings.

    The unit has a data analysis function that compiles information on the dog's bark over a set period, so the owner can create a diary of their dog's emotions.

    Other features of the unit:
  • the Today's Mood function carries out an analysis of the day's results and displays the dog's mood
  • the Friendliness Gauge summarizes results to give an overall picture of the dog's feelings towards its owner
  • the Gesture Translation Mode interprets 23 types of emotion and displays them as text by analyzing the emotion conveyed in the dog's gestures

    The primary device runs on two AA batteries and has an 100 x 64-pixel dot matrix monochrome liquid crystal display. It has 16 Mbit or memory.

    The dog collar device has a transmission distance of about 7 meters. Its power source is estimated to last about a month based on 3 hours per day of use.

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