Can you say bow-WOW?

Japanese toy maker Takara Co. Ltd. and cell phone content provider Index Corp. have developed a product which analyzes dogs’ emotional feelings and conveys them in words. The “Bowlingual” device consists of a terminal with a liquid crystal display, and a separate wireless compact microphone. The microphone, which is placed on a dog’s collar, will pick up and send out its bark to the terminal. The terminal will then analyze its voiceprint and categorize it into one of the six feelings: frustration, menace, insistence, fun, sorrow and desires, the companies said. The voiceprint analysis technology is provided by Japan Acoustic Lab. The collected data is used in two ways. One is to be immediately translated into words, which are randomly picked from a 200-word dictionary. The device can either display them on the screen or voice them from the speaker. The other way is that the data is to be stored and analyzed over a longer term and come out as the dog’s journal or the dog’s mood scale for a day. The companies are also developing a Bowlingual e-mail service so that the owner can see what the dog is saying while being away from home. This product is part of Takara, Index and Japan Acoustic Lab’s Dolittle Project, which have been developing products since the first quarter this year, based on communications between mankind and animals. Bowlingual will be on sale in Japan in February 2002 at 12,800 yen (US$104). There is a plan to market the device worldwide, although the shipping date has not been scheduled.

It’s time to translate

Montreal-based Alis Technologies Inc., a developer of language management solutions, last month announced that will incorporate the IBM WebSphere Translation Server into Gist-In-Time’s server farm. The Gist-In-Time solution is an online language comprehension tool, and gives visitors and users “gists” of Web pages – meaning it enables them to comprehend electronic documents in their preferred language. The WebSphere Translation Server will provide Alis’s solution with the following language pairs, according to a press release: English to/from Italian; English to German; English to Japanese; English to Simplified Chinese; English to Traditional Chinese and English to Korean.

U.S. movie studios to get online

Five of the largest U.S. movie studios have joined forces to co-develop an Internet-based movie delivery service for film enthusiasts in the U.S., showing an early commitment to protect their content on the Web. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Universal Studios Inc. and Warner Bros. Inc. felt that the number of broadband users in homes, businesses and universities in the U.S. warranted the creation of an on-demand movie service via the Web. The studios will offer broadband users recently released films and access to the companies’ large film libraries. The studios will also open the service to other film producers and distributors that want to use it as a delivery channel, according to a statement. The companies plan to provide an “appropriate level of copyright protection to enable the legitimate distribution of content on the Web” using Digital Rights Management (DRM) software products which they plan to update as the service rolls out, according to the statement. None of the studios have announced pricing plans or a delivery date for the service yet, saying that information would be provided at a later date. The service will deliver movies to PCs initially and then possibly to other types of devices in the future, according to the statement. It was unclear if Canadian users will have access to the service.

Canada gets AIBO

Sonly of Canada Ltd. last month introduced the ERS-210 Artificial Intelligence roBOt – otherwise known as AIBO – to the Canadian marketplace. AIBO, which is Japanese for “companion,” first sold in Japan in 1999. The robot is able to learn, mature and act independently in response to external stimuli, according to a press release issued by the company. Built-in hardware enables it to “think,” which includes a CPU “brain” and sensors, or “sensory organs.” AIBO achieves autonomy through the use of specialized

memory stick software applications the company calls “AIBO-ware,” allowing it to express emotions and demonstrate instincts, according to Sony. Available in gold, black or silver, AIBO and AIBO accessories will be available this month at select Sony stores, at select Holt Renfrew locations in Vancouver and Toronto, or via the Web at AIBO ERS-210 will be priced at $2,300, but AIBO-ware and Accessories are priced separately.

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