/Tech talk: Language-translating headphones

Tech talk: Language-translating headphones

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Tu To
Staff Writer

For decades, foreign languages have been a communication barrier whenbuilding relationships with others.
Waverly Labs, a start-up company based in New York, hopes to eliminate this barrier with its newly invented technology.
Pilot, a smart earpiece language translator, was released in May 2016.
Pilot is designed to help people speaking two different languages communicate with each other.
According to cnet.com, Pilot has two separate earpieces that can connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. People can use them together to listen to music as wireless earbuds, or they can hand one of the headphones to another person to translate the partner’s speech in real time.
According to Indiegogo.com, the earbuds are designed to hug the curves of the ears, without being too snug, and to be fashionable. Pilot comes in three colors: red, black and white.
“Its accompanying app toggles between languages and uploads them to the earpiece when in use offline and overseas,” wrote Indiegogo.com.
“In conference mode, multiple people can wear the earpiece and join in on the same conversation, even if they’re all speaking different languages.”
The first generation Pilot will not translate everything happening around a person. It translates only with people who also have the Pilot earpiece.
Robert Klein, an English as a second language instructor, said that the device might help students in the beginning of their learning language process, but in the long run, the earbuds have a potential to be an obstacle as well.
“I don’t even know how accurate this would be,” said Klein. “Translating devices like this normally just translate word by word instead of thought for thought, which does not really work in some specific situations.”
“As a tourist, this device is like one out of science fiction,” Klein said. “It means I can travel to as many countries I want to without having to learn a few phrases.”
The languages that will be available in May 2017 are English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. However, Waverly Labs hopes to make more languages available to include German, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, East Asian and African languages.
Saroj Sharma, a junior computer science major from Pokhara, Nepal, said that the device would help narrow the differences between cultures and speed globalization.
“The speech recognition and machine translation technique have already been available,” Sharma said. “It is interesting that this device integrates them all together.”
“Another impressive trait about this device is its impeccable design,” Sharma said. “The earbuds look very stylish.”
Sharma hopes that Pilot can help to mitigate cultural misunderstandings between people.
A pre-order of the Pilot system includes two earpieces, one mobile application and one charger. The system costs $199 and can be pre-ordered on Indiegogo.com. It is expected to be delivered in May 2017.