MeowTalk, an app to translate cat meows with your mobile

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The Simpons, a series marked by numerous premonitions, launched a chapter in which Homer’s brother invented a baby translator. This device transcribed all the sounds and babbling of all the little ones that appeared in the series, including Maggie’s. Well, a former Alexa developer has done exactly the same, but for the felines that we have at home.

MeowTalk Beta
MeowTalk Beta

MeowTalk translates cat’s meows into words

We have to say that this is just the beginning of an idea, which has its sights set on a much more long-term project. Intentions for the future that first go through providing this application with an intelligence never before seen in Android or in the era of smartphones. But all this would not be possible without the occurrence of an individual who participated in the development of Alexa and who is also Spanish.

meowtalk translator

The person behind MeowTalk is Javier Sánchez, ex-Amazon engineer who worked on the development of Alexa. The app is designed to “help people to bond even more with their cats and ultimately with the pets they keep at home”, especially if they cannot be in contact with other people on a regular basis.

The application is based on a general learning model (developed by Google) that interprets the recording and associates it with one of the 10 pre-established intentions. Being a machine learning model, the app may learn new words and associate them with the cat’s meows.

How to use MeowTalk with our cat

The step by step to know how to use it is merely anecdotal, since the app is designed for all audiences to use in a simple and intuitive way. In the main section, ‘Talk’, we have a microphone button that allows you to record the sounds of the cat. After hearing the meow, he offers us an answer, with the supposed translation of what “the cat said.” If we have several cats, we can create profiles for them, to have a record.

The main problem of the application is that it is only capable of offering 10 translations, what the developer calls “general intentions” of the cats. In short, they are predetermined results for a whole world of meows from different felines. Specifically, these are some of the answers offered by the app:

  • I’m here.
  • I am resting.
  • Something hurts.
  • I am angry.
  • I am scared.
  • Mommy.
  • I love u

As we can see, messages are short and lead to a wide margin of error.

How real can the translations of this app for cats be

This is a question that many owners of the 2.5 million cats in Spain can ask. If this system really works and is close to what the cat wants to convey, or if it is nothing more than a baseless nonsense that leads nowhere. The truth is that this development is real and aims to approach the meows of each cat, but with nuances.

Based on research in this field, it appears that, unlike humans and other animals, cats they do not share a language. The meow of each is unique and adapts to its owner, with some more vocal than others. Each cat also has its own unique vocalization and meow vocabulary that goes beyond these ten general intentions that the app has, so we cannot think that we have the Holy Grail in our hands.

meowtalk profiles cats

What we are clear about is that the app can only improve its performance and interpretations with constant use. That is, the more we use it with our cat, the better it will interpret its meows. Although at the moment many translations may lack accuracy, the end goal of this project is MeowTalk is a preamble to develop a smart necklace, where a human voice would instantly translate the cat’s meow through the accessory.