ULG's Language Services Blog

The Latest Language Translation Technology

Technology is beginning to keep pace with globalization to help us connect like never before. Whether you’re traveling abroad, living in a multicultural area where your primary language isn’t spoken or learning a language and want to practice translation and listening, there are plenty of new devices to help along the way.

Here’s a look at four language translation gadgets that might help you find the words you’re looking for:

While not yet available to consumers, parent company Logbar touts ili as the first wearable translation device in the world. Worn around the neck, ili can translate words spoken into the device in real time. Its design is rather fashion friendly, so wearing it will make you look more like you have a keen sense of style and less like you’re a tourist holding a translation dictionary. Once widely available on the market, the device will support translation of English, Chinese, and Japanese, with many more languages to follow. Additionally, it’s reported that ili will function without the Internet, making it usable anywhere you go.

The electronics titan has taken the phrase, “say it loud, say it proud” to a whole new level. The megaphone Panasonic Corporation has developed was a response to the influx of multilingual tourists in Japan. The bullhorn will translate English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean in the blink of an eye. The technology is currently aimed for use in venues like train stations, airports, and other crowded tourist areas. The company is expecting at least 10,000 requests for the technology, which has been in use in a beta stage since 2015.

Waverly Labs’ Andrew Ochoa launched a grassroots funding campaign to create Pilot, an earpiece used for translation. Used in conjunction with an app, the earpiece instantly translates your conversation partner’s speech. If you need a quick translation, the app can be used as a stand-alone without the earpiece. A secondary earpiece serves multiple functions: It can be used with your conversation partner, is able to translate conversations even when all participants aren’t speaking the same language and can be used to listen to music. Expect to see Pilot make its debut in spring 2017 when it will be available in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, and Italian, with many more languages to follow in summer 2017.

From wristbands, to watches, to earbuds, SpeechTrans offers an array of devices to satisfy your style and translation needs. The user can operate any of the wearables in conjunction with a smartphone or computer. Each wearable comes with a reasonably priced subscription service along with support options and access to human interpreters.  Further, the pieces can help with your fitness routine, double as wireless hotspots, and tell time.

While technology and innovation are becoming an intrinsically important piece of language translation, fully functioning, stand-alone artificial intelligence as it relates to language translation is still decades away. It’s fascinating to see how far language technology has come, though it is still no match for human translation.

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