The quest to communicate with dolphins began the moment scientists realized how intelligent these marine mammals are. Over the years, researchers have experimented with various strategies, ranging from giving them iPads to even developing a two way Rosetta Stone like language translation system. Now, they have come up with yet another strategy - A Dolphin Speaker.
Developed by a team of scientists from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology in collaboration with tech company Fusion, the underwater speaker is able to record not only the mammals' low frequency clicks, squeals and whistles, but also, the high frequency sounds that the human ear is unable to pick up. More importantly, it can play them all back at a frequency that is audible to humans - Something that has never been possible, until now.
Once they have recorded the entire range of sounds produced by dolphins, the scientists are planning to play it back to the mammals and try decipher what they are 'saying', by gauging their reaction to each squeal, whistle and click!
The prototype speaker currently in development, is capable of capturing this wide range thanks to piezoelectric elements that have never been used for underwater acoustic transducers, prior to this. Once complete, it will be capable of capturing and re-producing frequencies ranging from 7 Hz to 170 kHz - The entire span of sounds produced by the marine mammal that has one of the highest frequency ranges of hearing, amongst all living organisms. In comparison, humans can only hear frequencies that range from 20 Hz to 20 KHz.
While we are still trying to figure out what these smart animals are saying they have been fairly successful in learning the basic elements of the human language and can follow instructions even, when they are delivered on television.
Resources: dailymail.co.uk, gizmag.co.uk, pospsci.com