Even before the film version of Dr. Dolittle was released to the public in 1967 people have expressed a desire to “talk to the animals” as Rex Harrison so tunefully put it. This is especially true of dogs, arguably humanity’s oldest human companions, back when early relatives of cats were trying to rip our ancestors heads off, the tamer members of some wolf packs were assisting in keeping us alive.

While Zoologists and dog people all over the world will swear up and down that our ancient furry companions have their own communication system of vocalizations and even tail wags; one way means they are happy, another means they are agitated and signal-flag ear maneuvers especially in pointy eared breeds (have you ever seen a perplexed husky?), it can still be difficult for humans to ‘speak dog’ as it were. While a baby translator may still be the province of mad science fiction, researchers are getting ever closer to devising such a device for our for-legged friends. The most recent entry into this field of canine translation is the Inupathy harness.

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What is Inupathy

Coming out of Japan, a country with legally sanctioned dog-walking with a hefty fine if one neglects to take Sparky for a minimum of three walks a day, the Inupathy harness works similarly to a mood ring, lighting up different colors in relation to how the dog is feeling. While still not including a speaker broadcasting phrases such as “I’m a bit peckish”, “well bless my twinkling stars, I do believe that is a catl” or “please excuse the interruption, but I am in need of a constitutional” according to the inventor, biologist Joji Yamaguchi insists that the Inupathy harness has assisted in noticing some of the more nuanced elements of canine behavior and reactions. These include a slight increase in agitation when the door to a room is closed rather than open, many smaller breeds, such as those popular in Japan due to the high concentration of apartments, tend to have increased rates of isolation and separation anxiety.

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How it works

The Inupathy harness slips around the front legs and around the back of the dog like a traditional walking harness. The under-section of the harness reads the dog’s heart rate and an LED light (is there any other sort?) illuminates on the back in different colors indicating different moods and feelings. There are only three colors, primal emotions already having a built-in indicators supplied by evolution.

Is it safe?

As with many things that involve artificial measuring of vital organs, it is understandable to be concerned about potential risks, particularly when the proximity is so close. Fortunately with new advancements in casing, circuit buffering and such, the risk to Fluffy is minimal. Even if you forget to take off the harness before letting your dog go for a swim, there is more likely to be damage to the harness than the animal wearing it.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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