Dolphins are one of the smartest underwater mammals that humans have learned to train, but what happens if there was a device that could make us understand dolphins better? We’re talking about a dolphin language translator that a couple of scientists are currently working on, using an underwater computer with the hope that one day, they can use it for two-way communications with wild dolphins. Known as the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT) project, this is a labor of love by Denise Herzing, who founded the Wild Dolphin Project in Florida, and Thad Starner, who studies artificial intelligence at the Georgia Institute of Technology. One-way communication is easy, but two-ways? That’s where the real challenge lies.
Using a smartphone sized computer that is worn across a diver’s chest while being enclosed in a waterproof case, the device will hook up to a couple of hydrophones which are sensitive enough to pick up dolphin sounds underwater, including those that cannot be heard by humans. LED lights inside the diver’s mask will point towards the source of the sound, where the computer is hoped to decode and “translate” what the dolphins are saying, and using a Twiddler (sort of a combination mouse and keyboard), the diver can also choose and send out audible responses which hopefully, the dolphins are able to understand.
This is no easy task since figuring out interspecies conversations is going to be monumental, as you will need to figure out the animals’ vocabulary first. Good luck, guys!