Translate dog barks with Raspberry Pi

I speak English. Super well. And I can read the rough, overall vibe of writing in French. I can also order beer and taxis in Spanish. Alas, my dog can do none of these things, and we are left in communication limbo. I try asking them (in English) why they’re so mean to that one Cockapoo who lives across the road, or why they don’t understand the importance of the eyedrops the vet insists I have to hold their eyelids open to administer. They just respond with a variety of noises that I cannot translate. We need to fix this, and thankfully NerdStoke has harnessed Raspberry Pi to build a solution.

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(Video features some bleeped-out strong language, as well as one unbleeped mild swear)

How does it work?

The dog wears a harness with a microphone that picks up its barks. The barks get processed through a device that determines what the dog is saying and then outputs it through speakers.

Raspberry Pi Zero is the affordable brain powering NerdStoke’s solution to this age-old human-and-pup problem. But writing code that could translate the multitude of frequencies coming out of a dog’s mouth when it barks was a trickier problem. NerdStoke tried to work it through on Twitch with fellow hobbyists, but alas, the original dream had to be modified.

dog bark translator hardware
The kit worked fine – it was the coding challenge that changed the course of this project

Spoiler alert: fast Fourier transforms did not work. You would need a clear, pure tone for that to work in a project like this, but as we said above, dogs bark in a rainbow of tones, pitches, and all the rest.

So what’s the solution?

Because of this, a time-based model was devised to predict what a dog is likely to be barking about at any given time of day. For example, if it’s early morning, they probably want to go out to pee. But if it’s mid-morning, they’re probably letting you know the postman has arrived and is trying to challenge your territory by pushing thin paper squares through the flap in your front door. It’s a dangerous world out there, and dogs just want to protect us.

Nerdstoke had his good friend record some appropriate soundbites to go with each bark, depending on what time of day it happened. And now, Nugget the dog can tell you “I want to cuddle” or “Why aren’t you feeding me?”

Same, Nugget, same

While the final project couldn’t quite translate the actual thoughts of a dog, we love the humour behind this halfway solution. And we reckon the product name, Holler Collar, would definitely sell.

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Harry avatar

This is actually brilliant. Holler Collar is a great name too. Awesome project, very clever and innovative – great work. Shared with a few my colleagues!

Animal Lover avatar

This is amazing!
Great job and I cant wait to tell people about the Hollar Collar!

Craig Cummins avatar

Woof, Woof. Woof-woof-woof!

Neamtu avatar

I’d love some of this tech for my cats!

Matthew avatar

I loved this. Finding creative article topics just like this is the stuff of champions.
I would love to invite the creator and ask him to publish this on my tech news
Great Work!

Thomas Cannon avatar

Matthew, that’s me! Publish away!

Chris avatar

This is such a cool idea. I recently purchased a raspberry pi and and now can’t wait to start tinkering. Also, if I had come across this device in my local pet store I am sure I would open my wallet.

Bart K. McBarkbarq avatar

Gary Larson actually predicted how this would turn out in his FarSide cartoon in the 1990’s:
If that link doesn’t work, search for “Farside Dog translator”… lots of images!

John T. MacF. Mood avatar

I have a paradox, literally, a pair of Dachshunds that would never have disappointed you in a “demo” situation. They bark when they hear hummingbirds wing-beats while they eat at the feeder outside my window.

One or two posts on Doxie parent groups on Facebook, the pre-sales (paid orders) would go through the roof. If you started marketing them to Dachshund owners, you WILL make a fortune.

If you go out and crowd-fund this keep my email, I’ll happily chip in, for two units. And I have about 100 friends with Dachshunds who would all go “ape” over this. Please consider marketing this! PLEASE!


Mike Riley avatar

For those who dont get it, you need to watch the movie “Up!”

Hitesh Panchal avatar

I am very much interested in your project, if you can share details your used, i want to make for my dog, i have 9 month German Shephered, what i need to buy Raberry pi and a mic that’s it..?

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