Finally! New In-Ear Technology Translates Foreign Languages in Real Time

Traveling around a foreign country and yanking out a translation book at every turn will soon be a thing of the past. It looks like the Universal Translator device from Star Trek is now an actual piece of technology, and the days of butchering “Where is the bathroom?” in a foreign language are over. Plus, it’s a fraction of the size of that bulky thing Captain Kirk was lugging around.

Dubbed ‘The Pilot’, the new in-ear translation device will allow speakers of different languages to converse almost seamlessly. Developed by Waverly Labs, the earpiece when worn by two people uses an app that allows people speaking different languages to converse with relative ease.

Waverly is understandably keeping the details of how the technology works hush hush, being that it claims to be the first “smart earpiece” of its kind that can translate languages in such a way. What we do know is, like a lot of great inventions throughout history, a romantic pursuit played a role in its creation. Founder of the New York-based company Andrew Ochoa said he went to work on the idea after meeting a French woman.

The app allows for two people wearing the earpiece to toggle between two languages while ‘The Pilot’ translates nearly instantly. Right now the device is able to translate English, Spanish, French and Italian, but East Asian, Hindi, Semitic, Arabic, Slavic and African languages will soon be available too. Now traveling to that small Italian village with its own dialect and thick accent might hinder the translation accuracy, the company warned. The product is set to go for release in September in three color options, and while an old school translation book is still cheaper, it will go for a relatively affordable pre-order price of $129.


This sort of real-time translation technology is only the beginning and will rapidly accelerate in the coming years, says chief envisioning officer of Microsoft UK, Dave Coplin. “In five years, two people will be able to sit down, put a smartphone between them, and as they’re talking, the phone will translate their conversation seamlessly.”

‘The Pilot’ is only the newest technology entry that aims to solve the cultural hangup of language barriers. The Google Translate app that was released last year allows a person to use their smartphone camera to translate text into 26 languages and can do two-way speech in 40 different languages. A tap of the mic on either an iOS or Android device, and the phone will pickup the language being spoken and translate the message.


Similarly, the Skype Translator allows for translation of both voice and video calls. The product launched last October picks up the message and translates it to text before relaying the message in the go-to robotic voice.

While ‘The Pilot’ might be hindered by both users having to wear an earpiece, the company says that it hopes future incarnations will allow a single wearer to be able to listen to voices in their surroundings with translation ease.

Real-time translation technology is sure to change the way we travel and do business in the next few months or years, breaking down language barriers and allowing for better communication. And it sure beats the alternative of yelling louder and having to pantomime.

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