Sun(Fun)day Night: Tech Breakthroughs Giving Animals the Power to Speak

It’s a bit late on Sunday evening, but I wanted to stay consistent and get this post out to you. Wherever you are, I hope you had as beautiful weather as we did here in Central Ohio – it was over 70 degrees and sunny on Saturday!

The always interesting Wired, has an interesting article entitled “Tech Breakthroughs are Giving Animals the Power to Speak”. It’s not really funny – although I do like the article’s image featured above.

It is pretty cool to think that animals, especially service ones, are beginning to be equipped with “wearables” which will allow them a basic level of verbal communication with humans. One situation in which this could be life-saving is:

IMAGINE YOU’RE A DIABETIC and you use a service dog trained to alert you if it senses your blood sugar is falling. These dogs are incredibly useful, because diabetics can lapse into “hypoglycemia unawareness,” where they don’t notice their own oncoming symptoms. The canines do, and they intervene. But sometimes a diabetic shock can emerge so suddenly the human passes out. Then the dog’s in a quandary: How does it go for help? Because dogs can’t talk.

Unless they’re sporting a wearable computer that helps dogs communicate with humans. Melody Jackson, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, has been outfitting service dogs with computerized vests, so that in an emergency they can find another human and pull a mechanical lever on the vest that triggers an audio message: My handler needs you to come with me!

When people hear this for the first time, “they jump back 3 feet, because the dog is talking,” Jackson says, laughing.

Although dogs are the main animals for the focus of tech for communicating with humans, the article mentions that dolphins are being equipped in this way too.

You can learn more about this use of technology with animals from the TED Talk below:

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