A former Amazon engineer is working to answer a question almost all cat owners have: What is my cat trying to tell me?
Javier Sanchez, who worked on Amazon’s Alexa, is now a project manager with the Bellvue, Washington, tech company Akvelon, and is in a feline state of mind for his current project, according to King5.
Sanchez is currently developing an app called MeowTalk, a creation that promises to translate your cat’s vocalizations into something humans can understand.
“It’s not a language. They don’t share words or communicate with each other. Cats never meow at each other out in nature,” Sanchez told the local NBC affiliate about meows.
Through research, Sanchez and his team have found that cats often have one of nine different intents they are trying to relay when then meow at you, and each message has its own type of meow.
Using his Alexa experience and this research, Sanchez is working to decode meows into the phrases that cats are trying to convey, like “I’m hungry” and “I’m in pain.” Cat owners who download the app are able to record their cat’s meows and then get a translation of the sound. Pet parents then have the option to fine-tune and train the app to learn their pet’s unique vocalizations. Owners are also able to provide feedback to Meowtalk on the accuracy of the app’s translations.
“Using machine learning MeowTalk instantaneously translates your cat’s meows into one of nine general cat intents; these nine intents represent cat moods and states of mind. But each cat also has its own unique vocalization and vocabulary of meows that goes beyond these nine general intents,” the app’s description reads. “You can train the MeowTalk app to learn your cat’s unique vocabulary of meows (cat talk) by telling the app what each meow means when your cat makes it. When you give the app 5 to 10 examples of a specific meow for your cat (e.g. “food”, “let me out”) the app can start to recognize that meow (be your cat translator) when it hears it.”
MeowTalk is still under development and is continually being refined and updated, but the prototype is available to download now for Apple and Andriod phones. Sanchez hopes the app proves to be successful and that he and his team will eventually be able to develop a collar that translates your cat’s meows as they are speaking.