Your cat meows. Your cat’s collar translates the sound and a voice of your choosing (using a smartphone app) speaks the translation in English. Sounds fascinating. It sounds damn useful. Everyone who lives with a domestic cat would love to know exactly what their cat is saying. It is a prototype launched in the US and New Zealand.
It won’t work despite the fancy video. Am I being too negative? It is more a fun gimmick than a genuine translation (and it does look like fun in the video). The device is a way to make some money by tapping into cat lovers’ desire to fully understand their cat. It also taps into the increasing trend of treating cats as family members. Cats truly are family members to most families. It is just that they don’t speak English. Voila, a device which fixes the problem.
The truth is, though, that people who are in tune with their cat can translate cat sounds accurately. And it is not just cat sounds which are forms of communication. You translate a cat vocalisations by observing parallel cat behaviour and habits. You also know when the sounds are made and under what circumstances. These factors allow observant cat owners to translate what a cat is saying when they vocalise.
Communicating with a cat is about far more than the sound. There is body language, routines, habits and interactions with humans all of which build a picture from which it is possible to understand what your cat is “saying”.
A device like this can only work on the sound a cat makes. This is not the full picture. In addition, individual cats have their own range of sounds. A device like this can’t accommodate that variation. Quite a nice gimmick though. It is a big, stiff collar. It would only be sensible to let a cat wear it inside the home whilst being observed, I’d have thought. It could be dangerous. Although, I don’t want to be a killjoy.
What do you think?