London: Humans are a step closer to communicating directly with animals, thanks to a group of scientists developing an underwater computer to recognise dolphin sounds and then respond in real time.
They are hoping to test the machine off the Florida coast in the next few weeks, and, if successful, it will be a huge step in establishing communication between humans and animals.
The machine works by using hydrophones to pick up the dolphin sounds and LEDs to show the direction they came from, the journal Acta Astronautica reports.
When they receive a sound, the divers will then play back one of eight `words` and see if dolphins mimic them, the Daily Mail reports.
Scientists, led by Denise Herzing, Wild Dolphin Project, Jupiter, Florida, will then catalogue all the sounds the dolphins make and, they hope, establishing the building blocks of the dolphins language.
Once this is completed, Herzing and her team hope to create a language they can use to talk back to the dolphins using the machine.
Previously behavioural biologists have carried out two-way communication with dolphins in the wild. Herzing and colleagues at the established a shared, primitive form of language using sounds, symbols and props.
"Many studies have communicated with dolphins, especially in captivity, using fish as a reward," Herzing said. "But it`s rare to ask dolphins to communicate with us."
The earlier experiment revolved around both dolphins and humans asking each other for props such as balls and scarves.
Over the course of three years, the scientists played with the dolphins for 40 half-hour sessions.
They found that while young males were less interested in interacting with humans, young females enjoyed the game.