Scientists testing underwater translation machine to talk to dolphins

Shane McGlaun - May 10, 2011
Scientists testing underwater translation machine to talk to dolphins

One of the shows that I liked years ago was Seaquest DSV where they went around in that giant submarine. I really liked the dolphin that was able to talk to people and thought that would be pretty cool if we really could talk to dolphins. Scientists think that perhaps one day we may really be able to talk to dolphins and they are testing a new computer translation system to see if it can communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida.

Dolphins are very smart animals and can communicate and respond to commands. Researchers already know that a dolphin can keep track of about 100 words. Researcher Denise Herzing has been testing 2-way communications with dolphins since 1998. She started out using rudimentary artificial sounds, and then had the dolphins associate sounds with four large icons underwater using a special keyboard. Herzing is working with Thad Starner from the Georgia Institute of Technology on a new program dubbed CHAT.

The goal of the program is to co-create a language with dolphins that uses the sounds a dolphin communicates with naturally. The dolphins create sounds at up to 2000 kilohertz, which is about ten times higher than a pitch humans can hear. Starner is working with students to create a device about the size of a smartphone that has two hydrophones and can detect a full range of dolphin sounds. The system created by Starner and Herzing will be tested on wild Atlantic spotted dolphins in the middle of 2011 with eight words. The goal is to discover sounds that are fundamental to dolphin communication.

[via NewScientist]

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