Not Quite A Babelfish…

A science-fiction staple has inched closer to reality with the reveal of a prototype in-ear wearable that translates languages almost instantly.

Acting in a similar manner to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s babelfish or Star Trek’s Universal Translator, startup company Waverly Labs‘ Pilot earpiece sits in the ear to translate spoken foreign languages to the wearer.

This is pretty exciting! You can read much more at Dezeen.


  1. says

    That will lead to hillarious and maybe even tragic misunderstandings. Everyone who ever tried to use google translator to translate between two languages they know will know what I am talking about.

  2. rq says

    Youtube has some videos called ‘Google Translate Sings’, with a lot of hilarity ensuing.
    This looks promising, esp. if they take the care to work out turns of phrases and idioms that can’t be translated word-for-word but might have an analog in the other language. I see they’ll start with some common languages first, hopefully they will work their way down to lesser known languages -- I would only hope they select translation specialists who are fluent and comfortable in both languages, because the mistakes that get into the system right from the start are so entrenched they’re practically ineradicable.
    I’m just wondering how anglocentric this will get -- i.e. all (available) languages can be translated into English, but English won’t be translated into all (available) languages (this is an issue that crops up every now and then in translation work, and maybe it’s easier to resolve now, but it sometimes still is easier to, say, find the English word for the Latvian than the Latvian word for the English, which sounds a bit strange, but there isn’t a perfectly reciprocal relationship to these things, not always -- not because the information isn’t there, but because it hasn’t been curated in a way to make it accessible).
    Anyway, best of luck to the creators and developers, and I do hope they are prepared for some awkward situations, at least until all the kinks are worked out!

  3. Scott John Harrison says

    I am not sure why you are giving this scam any press coverage. They have literally shown nothing in the year.

  4. says

    @ 4: I’d think it would be obvious even to the most lunk-headed person that I posted about this because I found it to be interesting. They obviously showed something at the Mobile World Congress.

    It’s certainly obvious to me that you bothered to comment only so you could be an asshole in your attempt to be sniffily superior. Feel free to fuck off.

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