Human-to-dolphin translator reports first successful interaction
Researchers testing a real-life human-to-dolphin translator have reported the first successful use of their technology with a bottlenose dolphin.
It was able to point out a piece of nearby seaweed to a scientist in the water, the Independent reported.
Known as the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry device (Chat), the translator uses a pair of hydrophones (underwater microphones) to capture the range of clicks and whistles made by dolphins.
Rather than directly 'translating' these vocalisations into human speech, Dr Denise Herzing, the director of the Wild Dolphin Project and creator of the device, has been teaching the dolphins a limited vocabulary defined by humans.
This helps to simplify the massive range of noises made by dolphins, who produce sounds at frequencies up to 200 kilohertz - roughly 10 times higher than humans can hear.
Dolphins, who are highly social animals capable of tool-use and self-recognition in the mirror, use signature whistles to refer to individuals within a pod and echolocation clicks as sonar, bouncing sounds off their environment as a hunting aid.
Dr Herzing has developed eight "words" that use dolphin-like vocalizations to refer to elements of the animals' environment such as 'seaweed' and 'bow wave ride' (when a dolphin rides the wave created by a boat).
(Posted on 02-04-2014)