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AI Can Help You Speak to Your Dog…Sort Of



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AI For Translating Everything

AI has constantly made headlines in 2023 and 2024 for good reasons. It seems that AI systems might soon replace at least some of the workers in customer services, programming, graphic design, law, accounting, etc.

Another sector that has been under AI pressure has been translation. From Google Translate to DeepL, machines have already taken over the part of the translation jobs that do not require the highest level of quality, like corporate or official documents.

In the long run, we might have access to instant translation everywhere, dropping the language barrier permanently. Apparently, this might even extend beyond human tongues. Michigan researchers are developing AI tools that analyze dog barks and interpret them.

From Human To Animal Speech

The first hurdle they had to overcome was the data availability. It turns out there are not many recorded dog barks available for AI researchers. And AIs need a lot of material to start learning.

So, the researchers used AI models that had initially been trained for human language. Once the learning pattern in the AI “thinking” had been established and trained to detect subtle changes in intonations, tone, accent, pitch, etc., they looked at whether it could learn a new “barking” language.

They used the voices of 74 dogs of varying breeds, ages, and sexes in a variety of contexts.

Despite this limited dataset, the AI was able to identify whether a dog's bark is playful or aggressive and identify breed, sex, and age, all with an accuracy above 70%.

Is It Useful?

These results could be used to improve the welfare of our pets or prevent dangerous situations, such as warnings that a dog is aggressive.

Even if this study was conducted on dogs, it might not be where the application is the most relevant. This is because there are maybe not that many tasks about dogs care that can be automated away, and humans are pretty good at judging dog behaviors due to millennia of co-evolution and selective breeding.

We can however imagine that this could be very useful for biologists and environmentalists, for example recording the voices of wild animals. And determining the level of animals' stress, and which subspecies are active in an area, all just with an automated network of microphones and AIs.

This could be done both on land and at sea. With sea especially likely, as sounds carry farther, and some very intelligent animals like dolphins and whales have very complex speech patterns.

Related Stocks

1. AI Stock – Straker Translation (STG.AX)

Talking to animals would be a very science-fiction type of outcome of the AI revolution. Whether this becomes a thing or not, AI specialized in language and translations definitely has a massive total addressable market, encompassing the currently mostly human-driven sectors of customer services, teaching, translation, sales, etc.

Straker specializes in AI content automation, verification, and translations.

Its LanguageCloud can remove up to 80% of the human touch points in content processing, verification, and translation. Human experts can be included in the loop to ensure quality is never compromised.

Source: Straker

The company has succeeded in winning over many large clients, including large banks (Deutsche Bank, HSBC), industrial manufacturers (Milwaukee, Mitutoyo), public institutions (UN, EU), tech companies (SAP, IBM), and thousands of other corporate users.

Source: Straker

With 95% of revenue from repeat customers, Straker seems to deliver a level of quality sufficient to retain its customer base and create some level of an economic moat, with existing users likely unwilling to take a chance at risking poorer translation quality.

Overall, Straker seems to have found a convincing way to become a keystone part of the AI ecosystem, with translations that can be trusted even for financial, medical, or legal documents.

2. Pet Stock – IDEXX Laboratory

finviz dynamic chart for  IDXX

Our desire to perfectly understand our pets' voices is a reflection of their increased role in our lives, having taken the place of a full-fledged family member.

This means that we are also increasingly willing to pay good money for diagnosis and medical treatment for them, in order to prolong their life and alleviate disease symptoms.

It directly translates into increased spending on dog and cat medical testing, the specialty of IDEXX Laboratory. The company has tripled its revenues between 2010 and 2022, with cat & dog diagnostics driving the large majority of the company's revenues.

IDEXX benefits from having developed a fully integrated approach, with point-of-care analysis machines, VetConnect Plus software for diagnostics, and a solid support team to answer questions vets might have about a test result.

All these services are supported by integrated electronic medical records, analytics, and easy-to-understand data for pet owners.

Source: IDEXX

The company is quickly expanding internationally, having entered 2021 the German, Spanish, French, and Korean markets. And in 2022, the Brazilian, Japanese, and Italian markets.

Source: IDEXX

IDEXX's growth has been spectacular, but might still have a lot of space to keep going. Especially thanks to the combination of an overall growing pet ownership rate, growing spending on pets, increased market penetration, and an international expansion that has just started.

Jonathan is a former biochemist researcher who worked in genetic analysis and clinical trials. He is now a stock analyst and finance writer with a focus on innovation, market cycles and geopolitics in his publication 'The Eurasian Century".