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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Japan goes barking mad for dog toy
Dog
A computerised gadget to help canine owners make more sense of doggy noises has been an immediate hit in Japan.

The Bowlingual device is reported to have sold out when it hit stores in Japan for the first time on Friday, defying the wider trend of falling consumer sales.

Dog emotions
Fun
Self-expression
Demand
Sorrow
Menace
Frustration
The Japanese love affair with pet-related computers is long-standing.

Now, for about $120, dog lovers can buy themselves an eight-centimetre microphone for their pet's collar and a small console to receive any canine communication.

The console claims to be able to interpret about 200 phrases or words - grouped in six different emotional categories: fun, frustration, menace, sorrow, demand and self-expression.

Developed by toy-maker Takara, the device then randomly selects a human phrase to go along with the identified emotion.

Chihuahua-proofed

"You can never tell what dogs are thinking without becoming a dog yourself," said a spokeswoman for Takara, Yoko Watanabe.

Bill Clinton and Buddy AP
One man and his dog: Making sense of it all
"But we hope dog lovers will use Bowlingual as an additional tool for them to play with their pets."

Takara, following joint research with the Japan Acoustic Laboratory, claims to have made the device more compatible with more than 50 dog species from Chihuahuas to German Shepherds.

Sales of Bowlingual in Tokyo's prestigious Ginza shopping district today are said to have been booming - with early deliveries sold out.

Takara's initial business plan is to sell 300,000 units in Japan by the end of the year.

Follow-up products are already in the pipeline, allowing dog messages to be sent over the internet or to expand the technology to new animals.

See also:

08 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
12 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jun 02 | Business
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