Image by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash.

Imagine a world in which everyone spoke the same language, and nothing could be lost in translation.

This would make for an interesting movie that takes place in a utopian world, but in reality, it just doesn’t make any sense. Language is limited to tens of thousands of words, and many languages have unique words that don’t translate well at all.

It’s not realistic or feasible to have everyone learn multiple languages to communicate effectively. So, we turn to the next best option – translator devices. There are plenty of handy translator devices out there. There are even online tools that are completely free like Google Translate.

So far, we’ve come across two major issues with these digital translators: 1) They are frequently not very accurate; and 2) They all require access to the internet in order to function at all. For most of us without data, this is heartbreaking. But there is a solution.

The First Offline Translator

A company called Timekettle has recently updated one of their products, the WT2 Plus earbuds, with the ability to translate 40 different languages and 93 different accents offline. Using A.I.-assisted technology, you won’t require data to receive real-time translations of what others are saying.

Image by Timekettle via Timekettle.

It takes up to 5 seconds to have a sentence translated for you and it’s entirely hands-free, so no need to pick at your phone; conversations are apparently close to seamless. The device is up to 93% accurate with what it translates, which is pretty good. It also offers up to 15 hours of battery life thanks to a mobile charging station (it can translate for roughly 5 hours without the charging kit). The device comes with an app that works on both iOS and Android, making it accessible to the majority of users.

It has three different modes depending on the situation. Simul Mode is specifically designed for quiet environments. Each person wears an earbud, and one person can speak without stopping. While they’re speaking, the translation will playback in real-time through the non-speaker’s earbud. This mode offers the most realistic type of conversation but has trouble with accuracy sometimes.

Then there’s Touch Mode, which is specifically designed for noisy environments. Each user wears an earbud, and one person will touch the sensor to activate the voice pick-up. Every touch of the sensor again will translate the spoken sentence. This mode is a lot more accurate, though cumbersome.

Finally, there’s Speaker Mode, which is great when only one person has to speak. For example, if you’re giving a presentation to people with a different native language. In this mode, you continuously speak, and the earbud will automatically activate the voice pickup for translation and recording.

Drawbacks

There are always drawbacks to cutting-edge technology. The lack of accuracy is an issue with ALL translators, so there may occasionally be issues with words that require clarification. With languages that have many similarities with words, the translation may be less accurate. German to English or Spanish to Italian, for example, might cause a bit of confusion.

The other major issue is the cost – the WT2 Plus will set you back about $240 U.S. Thankfully, they do offer a Lite model for $150, though it frequently goes out of stock and doesn’t feature as many languages or the offline support.

That said, in a world where masks have become the norm and communication is becoming increasingly difficult, the WT2 Plus might be a “sound” investment. If you enjoy travelling to foreign countries, you’ll likely be able to find a great use for one of Timekettle’s products.

. . .

At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

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