Innovation

Travelling the world? Translation earpieces are coming

By Oliver Smith 3 March 2017
Summary

Put this digital 'Babel fish' in your ear.

In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy characters are able to talk fluently in different languages across the galaxy with the help of an alien Babel Fish which they put in their ear.

Now the dream of a real Babel Fish is becoming a reality, with the help of an earbud called the Pilot.

Built by Waverly Labs, the Pilot is a tiny wireless earbud placed in your ear, with a second earbud for the person you’re talking to, that both use in-built microphones and a smartphone app to quickly translate conversation between two people.

“It’s the dream, you know?” Waverly founder Andrew Ochoa told The Times.

“A life untethered, free of language barriers. It’s just that it’s no longer a dream any more.”

The Pilot works with a partner smartphone app that handles the actual translation.

Hearables

Tiny computers for your ears might sound bizarre, but they’re part of a growing trend of so-called ‘hearables’ that were on show at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

If fitness trackers and smartwatches took smartphone electronics and miniaturised them to fit on your wrist, now ‘hearables’ are doing the same for your ear.

 

Apple’s AirPods were among the first generation of these new devices, that were little more than bluetooth earbuds with some motion detection.

Now forthcoming generations are expanding to include voice assistants and translation services, like the Bragi Dash and Waverly’s Pilot, all in a package that fits in your ear.

This future of ‘hearables’ isn’t quite ready yet, the Pilot is due to go on sale this autumn for around £250.

It could herald a future of better understanding around the world, but sadly not in time for you summer holiday.