Communication tech for you and your pets at CES | What the Tech?
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (WHAT THE TECH?) — Over 100,000 people are now at CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show. Thousands of exhibitors are manning huge exhibits to show their new products.
There are many products new this year to solve real-world problems. One interesting category this year is solving the language barrier – Not just for people but their pets.
FluentPet is a device that trains dogs and cats to communicate with their owners using human words. Developer Leo Trottier said panels or tiles you place on the floor have buttons that can be programmed for certain words you want to teach your pet.
“Each of these buttons, when you press it a word comes out of the speaker here,” he explained. “Over time, they’ll learn how to press those buttons to ask for what they want.”
In the crowded CES convention hall, Ducky responds to his mom Ashley Everson to demo FluentPet. As she asks what a ball or pull toy is, Ducky tapped on the button. However, when they’re home, Ducky presses the button to speak when he wants something, such as “go outside”.
“You can teach them to want, you can teach them to ask for help. a common one is right when their ball rolls under the couch. Now instead of scratching up their furniture, they can run to the button and say ‘Mommy, help’,” she said.
They can even text you when you’re not at home. The developer Leo Trottier tells me dogs have even started putting sentences together using multiple panels.
“I’ve got to say whenever your dog says ‘I love you’, it’s totally something else.”
Verbum solves a different language barrier by allowing people to speak to one another in their own language.
“Where I call you in Spanish and you will hear me in English, you talk to me in English and I hear you in Spanish, or Japanese, or Chinese, or german, or Arabic on the fly,” explained Saul, Verbum’s developer.
To demonstrate, I sat down at a computer and talked live with Diana, who was in front of her computer in Chile. As we talked, Verbum translated our conversation from English to Spanish. I could hear her speak Spanish but what she said was immediately translated into English text on the screen.
Verbum also has an audio feature that translated her speaking to a voice speaking the same words in English – it’s really impressive – and I learned there is a shortage of human interpreters. It’s also expensive to hire them for court systems and school districts.
Now, Verbum is already being used for international Zoom meetings and the United Nations.