The Pilot Earbud Device Translates Foreign Languages In Live Conversations, Opening Up The Lines Of Communication In A High Tech Way
Ever wished you were fluent in about a billion languages? Yeah, me too. Luckily, amazing new technology like the in-ear Pilot translator translates conversations right when you're having them. Yes, it's that awesome: By placing a small device in your ear, a corresponding smartphone app can translate the conversation you're having in the moment via Bluetooth. That means there's no typing, no Googling, and no panicked flipping through a dictionary.
The Pilot translates a live, in-person conversation between you and another person, and covers languages including French, Spanish, Italian, and English. Upon its release, the Pilot will support additional languages, including East Asian, Hindi, Semitic, Arabic, Slavic and African languages. Awesome, right? The device is currently still in development; backers can support the project via their Indiegogo page. When you purchase the device, you receive two ear pieces, so you can use one for yourself and one for the other person in your conversation.
So, how does it all actually work? The details of how exactly the translation occurs are still pretty under wraps, but it connects through an app on your phone which allegedly can work while offline, which is awesome. As of May 25, you can preorder the Pilot for between $129 and $179. After the preorder runs out, the product is expected to range between $250 and $300.
While Pilot is certainly innovative, it isn't the only cool product available to help us cross cultural and linguistic barriers. There's a lot of research and funding going into this area right now, so here are some other cool options to choose from:
1. Tap to Translate
Google Translate's World Lens feature allows users to translates the words of almost 30 languages in real time via the phone's camera. You can even use the app when you're offline. Another cool, recent addition is the "Tap to Translate," feature which allows you to translate text messages within the individual message — which means you don't have to copy and paste your text into a different translating app or browser, saving you tons of time.
ili garnered a lot of attention through their ad campaign, which shows a man using the translation technology to ask for kisses from women in various languages. The video received a huge amount of backlash and criticism, as many people felt it allegedly glorified sexual harassment. (Takura Yoshida, CEO of Logbar, which produces ili, later revealed that the scenes in the ad were staged. "The promotional video in question was created with an intention to showcase the effectiveness of the translation device," he said according to the Independent. "The women are all actresses and were instructed to act the way they did. No one was forced to do anything against their will.")
The device itself, though, is pretty cool, even if the ad campaign wasn't. It's a wearable translation device that doesn't rely on any form of Internet connection, which is great for traveling. It uses its own operating system and currently translates English, Chinese, and Japanese.
3. Skype's In-Call Translation
In-call translation services were added to Skype about seven months ago after having been previewed to users starting in December 2014. The in-call translation is pretty darn cool — it offers live translation for six languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish. If you're doing text-based communication via Skype, you can use the translation service for up to 50 languages. What is super awesome about this app? It learns as you use it, so the more people use slang, regional dialects, and so forth, the better the system will recognize and understand them.
So, there you have it! Go forth and chat with people in new languages via these awesome technologies. Or, you know, take a language class. Either way, there's always something to gain from broadening your horizon.