Sure, our smartphones come in handy when we want to get in touch with the people in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the new BlackBerry 10 OS, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, or iOS – your smartphones allow you to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. But there is a chance that communication could be taken to the next level. Who has not yet dreamed about being able to talk to pets and understand what animals actually mean when they make certain noises? New scientific findings have shown that it is indeed possible to decode animal language – and the idea of talking back to your cat or dog suddenly does not seem that absurd anymore.
In 2010, one of Google’s various April Fools’ jokes was an app called Google Translate for Animals. With the aim of “encouraging a greater interaction and understanding between animal and human”, this app paired random phrases with the noises that your pet makes. What was merely a joke back then could soon be reality. Looking at prairie dogs, scientists have been working on decoding animal signals which add up to a very sophisticated language system, with sentence structures composed of noises resembling what we understand to be words. Animals distinguish clearly between the objects and creatures they see, making very specific noises when they spot potential predators of different color and size – describing exactly what they see.
This knowledge will surely help understand animals better – and facilitate communication between animal and humans, just as Google Translate for Animals jokingly envisioned in 2010. We might soon not only be able to understand what our pets are saying but also be able to convey to them very precise messages in their own language. It might take up to ten years for researchers to develop such a complex database of animal language, and potentially a couple more to create an app which could be accessible to everyone. But it is highly likely that technology and science will bridge the communication gap between humans and animals at some point in the near future.
If we are very lucky, then in a couple of years, your smartphone might not only be able to help you understand people all over the world regardless of their language. It might also fulfill the dream of man pet owners: precisely knowing what it is that your animal is trying to tell you instead of merely guessing – and possibly actually telling them exactly how much you love them, in their very own language.