New ‘baby translation app’ takes the guesswork out of parenting

For the first couple of years of an infant’s life, parents rely on the incoherent goo-gah-gahs and cries of their children to understand whether or not they are hungry, tired or in need of a new nappy. However, a new app has been developed to translate a baby’s cry and tell parents what their child needs. Created by researchers at the International Research Centre for Infant Development, ‘Goo-goo Translate’ uses built-in artificial intelligence (AI) to cross-reference your baby’s cries, up to the age of two years-old, against thousands of pre-programmed sounds to establish what they want. For example, baby cries over 200hz with short intermediate breaks means “I want food”

Over a five-year research period, neonatal specialist Dr Duncan Biggs and a team of computer programmers recorded over 10,000 baby cries and incoherent baby chatter. A simple “Go-ga-ha-ha” will translate as “pick me up”. The research in its entirety involved observing around 5,000 children for an hour, during their most active time of the day, and categorised the meaning of each sound. These audio files were then digitally tagged and stored, marking their longevity, pitch and tone. “This research has suggested the potential to develop a system, whereby parents can fully under their children”, says Dr Biggs. “As ongoing research, Goo-goo Translate is a drop in the ocean for the future technologies in understanding newborns.” Dr Biggs described some of the common translations as:

  • “Ge-goo-ma” as “I’m happy”
  • “Goo-gah-goo” as “play with me”
  • “Nah-nu-go” as “I’m not happy”

Though still in its infancy as a fully comprehensive translation app, Goo-goo Translate can listen to a baby and inform parents if their child requires either, food, sleep, a new nappy or attention. Much like the ‘Shazam’ for baby noises, simply hit record and wait for the integrated AI system to compare the sounds to those in the database, and after a few seconds a translation will appear, “Ga-ga-ga-oh” will translate to “I don’t like this outfit”.     

We put a beta version of the app to the test to see how it performs. Waking up from an hour-long nap, baby James was more than happy to oblige us with a cacophony of cries for Goo-goo Translate to translate. Hitting the record button, as the app promised, a result appeared in only a few seconds and across the screen read… “April fools”. How not to fall for April Fools 2019


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