Who doesn’t wish they could talk to animals? Dr. Wilson Medved of URI (the Ursine Research Institute) has a vision that goes beyond just wishing.
Medved believes he can turn a bear’s very thoughts into spoken English. “Technology should be used to make the world a better place,” Medved said. “That’s what this is about. Speaking to bears, listening to their thoughts, allowing them to express their desires and begin a conversation between species.” Medved was given a grant to begin research on bear communication when he presented his findings in bear brain activity. So began Project Ruxpin.
An intricate system of wires and probes is inserted into the bear’s brain. These are contained inside of a glass helmet that keeps the exposed brain from becoming contaminated. The helmet is outfitted with speakers and a microphone that are run through a computer which translates the incoming and outgoing messages so that the bear can both give and receive communication. It’s a contraption that Medved spent years perfecting and experimenting with on a 1300 pound Alaskan grizzly bear named Teddy. Medved believes it works.
“You have to build up their trust,” he said. “My machine works. Teddy is just shy.”
The science and bear research community dismissed Medved’s theories until a breakthrough occurred Thursday when the bear communicated. From the speakers in its helmet, a robotic voice clearly said the words: “I desire honey”. History was made.
Though this is the only communication that has been received so far, it has been enough to excite Medved and his team and urge them to press on. The enthusiastic scientist said, “I envision a world where we can settle our differences with bears by simply reasoning with one another. They are extremely intelligent creatures and as far as I’m concerned, much nobler than human beings. If they wipe humans off the earth, maybe humans had it coming.”
BNN is watching the Ruxpin project closely and will be the first to report any major breakthroughs as they develop.