Do you like travelling? How many languages do you speak? I bet when you travel to a country where English is not a first language, it can be a real challenge.
Like me, I love Saudi Arabia and I’ve been on Hajj and Umrah and I have a lot of friends in the Kingdom and we communicated effectively with a few apps, like Google Translate among others.
While the language barrier can be a problem, technology has evolved to break down this barrier and which is a huge step in forging new friendships.
There is always a lot of appreciation and respect by a person in a foreign country when you can speak his language.
However if you do not have an affinity for languages there is always the TimeKettle which makes it easy to understand the world’s languages.
It’s WT2 Plus AI Realtime Translator Earbuds are described as “the real-time translating earphones for natural bilingual conversations”.
The system uses two earphones – one for each participant in the conversation – in combination with an app on a smartphone.
TimeKettle claims the system “enables foreign communication that is natural, fluent and preserves both eye contact and body language, allowing you to immerse yourself in the conversation, express yourself more completely and build more meaningful connections with the people you meet”.
The company says that, within a good networking environment, it takes 1-3 seconds to complete voice recognition and translation, drawing on support from Google, Microsoft and iFlytek, and providing translation accuracy up to 95%.
Its biggest strength is that it supports 40 languages and 93 accents, covering 85% of the world’s population, and provides simultaneous 2-way translation.
An offline voice package supports offline translation in seven languages, for when there is no network. However, this requires the use of tokens called, cleverly, Fish.
The 5 Fish required for the offline package cost around R175.
It offers 3 modes, namely:
Simul, for simultaneous, allowing one person to talk continuously in a quiet environment and the other person to hear translation continuously.
Touch, designed for noisy environments: one touches earbuds to speak, and again to translate.
Speaker, in which only one person wears an earphone, designed for quick questions or brief translations from various individuals.
The user wears one earphone and holds their smartphone in front of the other person. One can then hear the translation aloud or view the translated text on the app.
How does it work?
It uses a combination of speech recognition, text-to-speech technology, translation software, and artificial intelligence to convert your speech into text, translate that text into another language, and then turn the resultant text into speech in the language of the listener.
How much is it?
Available online at $179 from TimeKettle.co and $199 from Amazon.com. Both ship to South Africa, and the former adds a standard $20 shipping cost. Customs may levy a further charge.