Picture it. You’re an English-speaking techie on vacation in France and you meet a mysterious woman. She’s mysterious because you can’t understand a word she’s saying (and vice versa). You go your separate ways, wondering what might have been, if you’d only had some magical way to bridge the gap.
That magical way has arrived.
The language barrier encountered by many world travellers may have become a thing of the past with the introduction of the Pilot. In the book and television series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Babel Fish performed intergalactic translations. Now, right out of the pages of science fiction, Babel Fish is coming to an international travel adventure near you. The Pilot translation device, which fits in your ear, allows you to understand what those speaking a foreign language are saying, but that’s not all. The development team responsible for the Pilot relates that the person you’re talking to will be able to understand you, too.
Waverley Labs’ website promises that the Pilot can translate for you, allowing two speakers of different languages to enjoy simultaneous translation. The company has run a pre-order campaign for travelers who hope to enrich their adventures with what this device offers. For between $129 and $179, these lucky people will become the first to experience the Pilot.
The Pilot launches this fall and will be available in English, Italian, Spanish and French. With the help of an earpiece, English speakers needn’t fear the boulangeries of Paris, or the taco stands of Mexico City. The Pilot allows greater freedom for those hoping to enjoy the full experience of countries in which many might not speak their language. Those who were too timid to venture from the well-traveled tourist path in days past will now have greater confidence to do so.
While Waverly Labs hasn’t yet revealed the secrets of the Pilot, the device uses technology capable of immediate translation with the help of an app. For now, the device will translate only between two speakers using the earpieces. Waverly Labs is hoping that further development will allow translation of ambient speech, also, while travelling aboard.
The story this article opens with actually happened. One of Waverly’s New York technicians got the idea when he met the woman of his dreams while in France. Unfortunately, these star-crossed lovers couldn’t understand each other. So it was that Waverly’s amorous technician decided it was time to do something about the language barrier.
Counting on the appeal of such a promising new technology, Waverly launched an Indiegogo campaign. Adventurous travelers wanting to get in on the ground floor were able to pre-order the Pilot for much less than its eventual retail price, projected to be between $250 and $300. The campaign supported roll out and, at the same time, worked to help Waverly in its marketing efforts, building WOM.
But Waverly isn’t the only company taking advantage of our shrinking world. Skype can now perform direct translation for conferences between seven participants. In addition, Microsoft is promising new translation technology soon. Within five years, it will become possible for people who speak different languages to communicate freely, with only their Smartphones.