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Google cracks animal translation riddle … for Android

Never mind Mr. Ed, this technology will leave you speechless

By Paul McNamara on Thu, 04/01/10 - 5:51am.

goolittleThe reaction of the farmer alone is worth the demonstration video's minute and 43 seconds:

"That's amazing," he mutters, after learning through Google Translate for Animals that his porcine wonder, Bella, believes he and/or the Google chap smell just swell. (Of course, it's unclear whether the farmer is speaking of the technology or the pig's conclusion, but that doesn't matter when we're talking about a breakthrough of this magnitude.)

Here's how the technology is described on the U.K. version of Google.com:

Making the world's information universally accessible is a key goal for Google. Language is one of our biggest challenges so we have targeted our efforts on removing language barriers between the species. We are excited to introduce Translate for Animals, an Android application which we hope will allow us to better understand our animal friends. We've always been a pet-friendly company at Google, and we hope that Translate for Animals encourages greater interaction and understanding between animal and human.

(2010's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

Translate for Animals is an application for Android phones that recognises and transcribes words and phrases that are common to a species, like cats for example. To develop Translate for Animals, we worked closely with many of the world's top language synthesis teams, and with leaders in the field of animal cognitive linguistics, including senior fellows at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Step-by-step directions and a photo galleries can be found here.

Of course, the world has been full of all kinds of snake oil purveyors claiming to have accomplished this type of translation before Google, but you can be sure that the company's patent lawyers have done their homework on this one.

Now I can't wait to find out whether our family gecko really can save us 15 percent or more on car insurance.

(Update: Related story here and here. And slideshow here.)

(Later update: You can zip through all of Google's related announcements in this slideshow.)

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