If you’ve ever wondered what your cat is trying to say to you, there’s now a possible answer in the form of MeowTalk. Developed by Akvelon, a company that includes a former Amazon Alexa engineer, MeowTalk intends to bridge the owner-pet communication barrier.
Understand your cat
Even though there are currently several ‘pet translation’ apps available, including Human-to-Cat and Cat Translate, these come with disclaimers stating that they’re for entertainment purposes only. MeowTalk aims to walk the walk and talk the cat talk as a serious pet interpretation aid.
Given the pedigree of the development team, it should come as no surprise to know the app uses machine learning to power its language recognition. However, it’s believed that cats don’t share a language. They don’t make the same type of sounds for the same reasons, which means MeowTalk has its work cut out.
The way the app gets around this is by letting you record your cat and then add a tag for what it probably means. For example, if your cat is sitting by the door and meowing, it’s likely saying ‘Let me out!’ Then, the app’s artificial intelligence uses this data to create a consistent translation.
Since each cat has a unique voice, MeowTalk comes with thirteen phrases you can tag a recording with, in the system. Terms include ‘Let me in’, ‘I’m hunting’, and ‘I’m going to attack’. The app’s AI learns to match similar sounds and updates every day. Eventually, the app will start to recognise various meows from your cat and be able to translate them.
MeowTalk even lets you save more than one cat's sound on the app, whether it’s another pet or the neighbourhood stray. This feature is particularly handy if you have several animals all talking at once but you only want to record one.
A cute idea
MeowTalk is in beta testing, which means it may not be entirely accurate. Plus, it needs to hear a cat numerous times to build up its meow recognition. Ultimately, it’s a cute idea, but you could argue that if you know your pet well enough, there’s no need for the app.