Coming soon - a Chinese mobile app that translates cat body language and lets you know what your cat is trying to tell you - as if you didn't know already.
Although it isn't yet available, cat lovers can sign up to be notified when Māo, an app for Android and iOS, is released in the coming months.
How often have you wished that your cat, who seems to understand so much of what you say, could answer back? Well most of the time your cat is tyring to communicate - it's just that humans often fail to understand. As the Māo website puts it:
Every part of a cat's body, from the mouth to the tail, speaks volumes about how they feel. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to read their body language.
And that's where Māo hope to bridge the gap using body language and 16 distinct vocal patterns which are universal to all cats. The app is said to distinguish between the behaviour of adult cats and kittens and claims that over time it will learn to recognise parts of your cat’s unique personality and vocal characteristics by calibrating captured data to basic behavioural and vocal patterns.
The following video gives you the idea - but, unlike the website which has information in English, Spanish, Arabic and Hindu, it is only in Chinese - and cat.
The information about how it works explains:
When you press “translate” it first records the cat’s behaviour using real time video capture from the camera and microphone in your smart phone. Then the captured video is analysed by a custom-developed algorithm for marker less motion capture (similar technology used by high production CGI films and animations) which uses a tree-based image filtering method and probabilistic framework to translate every frame of the animal’s body pose into a low-resolution 3D body model. After this, the captured motion and sound information is then preprocessed and compared with a library of prerecorded behavioural samples. The library contains more than 1000 expressions based on the research of more than 30,000 cats which was produced and analysed in collaboration with some of China’s leading animal psychologists, animal behaviourists and veterinarians. And finally, whenever a match between the input behaviour and the library is found, it displays a text-based explanation to the user.
This seems like a very interesting application of machine earning as well as an app that many cat owners are going to be excited about.
Is this the start of a new set of AI based apps that translate from animal language to human? If so we might not always like what we hear.