New iPhone app will put your dog on Twitter

An iPhone version of Bowlingual is planned in Japan

Index Corp.'s iPhone Bowlingual app

Index Corp.'s iPhone Bowlingual app

Your friends and family are on Twitter, as are celebrities and even astronauts, so why shouldn't your dog be on as well? That will soon happen thanks to an iPhone application that "translates" dog barks into English and tweets them out to the world.

Japan's Index Corp., a mobile content provider, plans to launch this summer an iPhone adaptation of the "Bowlingual" dog emotion translator. The original device, first offered in 2002 by Takara Tomy, coupled a microphone that goes around the dog's neck with a handheld receiver with LCD screen for the owner.

It works by analyzing a dog's bark and classifying it into one of six emotions: sad, frustrated, needy, happy, self-expressive and on guard. It then "translates" this into one of several set phrases to go along with each emotion. The product proved to be a hit in Japan selling around 300,000 units and was also put on sale in the U.S. and South Korea.

A revised version went on sale last year in Japan but the new iPhone version will make the technology more widely available and at a much lower price. Index is planning to charge US$4.99 for the app, said Sonoko Tatsuno, a spokeswoman for the company in Tokyo. That's considerably cheaper than the ¥20,000 (US$229) price tag of the stand-alone version.

In addition to analyzing and translating a dog's bark, the software can capture a picture of the dog using the iPhone's built-in camera and then digitally modify it to produce a fisheye-effect. The resulting picture mimics a popular photography technique for capturing dogs and other pets.

The resulting picture can then be combined with the "translation" and sent directly from the iPhone to Twitter.

A Japanese version will be available in early summer, followed shortly afterwards by an English version, said Tatsuno. Other languages are still under consideration by the company.

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Martyn Williams

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