Machine Translation has come along way in recent years with the advent of artificial neural networks to “learn from millions of examples” to increase fluency and accuracy. Translating emails, web pages and even documents from one language to another are offered automatically in certain browsers. And while some of the translations are a bit off like complicated speech and idioms, usually the gist of what is being communicated comes across well. As important technologies like these improve there becomes more interest in evolving and incorporating the functionality into new devices that better serve us. So it is not so hard to imagine that someone said to themselves wouldn’t it be great to use machine translation real-time. Here are some ideas of what a real time machine translation device could do to help an otherwise foreign communication become less awkward: “real communication should be natural, ideally face-to-face, allow people to make eye contact and observe body language.”
A new in-ear gadget dubbed the Pilot by Waverly Labs, claims to be able to translate speech from and to the following combination of languages: English, French, Spanish and Italian face to face. Pilot uses two earpieces, one worn by each person in the conversation and will cost $249 when it goes on sale in the fall of 2017. The Pilot currently requires each person in the conversation to be wearing the ear piece or using a smart phone app it offers on speaker mode, but future releases will be developed to translate everything around you.
A startup company called TimeKettle is also working on their new ear piece translation device called WT2. They have just gotten a big plug from TechCrunch today, but while their product works similarly to Pilot, it will first focus on Mandarin Chinese and English as their first language pair. WT2 is not as far along in development as Pilot, but will be doing a funding launch on Kickstarter next month.