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Matinee Blog

Audio Translation Gadget

A Father’s Day Gift For The Future?

Pilot is a new language audio translation tool that promises to instantly translate spoken language. We give the low-down on how it works, and what it might mean for the audio translation industry.

As Father’s Day fast approaches, sons and daughters around the U.K. are scrambling to find last minute Father’s day gifts. In our own search for ideas, we stumbled across the coolest gadget ever. And given that it’s a language translation tool, we just had to share it with our readers.

Meet Pilot, the Language Translation Gadget Taking Indiegogo by Storm

The earbuds shown in this video work along with a smartphone app to instantaneously translate spoken words from one language to another. Or, to borrow a line from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “If you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language” – well, as long as that language is app-supported! It’s still in the production phase, and has currently raised over $2,032,264 USD (over £1.4 million!) in its Indiegogo campaign; that’s 2,710% of the team’s initial goal.


Photo caption: The Babelfish, from Douglas Adams’ series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, did essentially what Pilot aims to do. We’d rather use an earbud than let one of these slimy creatures crawl in our ear! Photo credit: BBC

A Work in Progress

Unlike the Babelfish, Pilot does have some limitations. As mentioned, the earbuds are tied to a mobile app, which is planned to support just five languages at first: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Other languages will continue to be added.

The other downside is that the first generation of this language translation gadget will not translate everything around you. Again, because it is linked with the Pilot app, the earbud only translates when someone else is either wearing an earbud, or is speaking into their phone while using the app.

Even with these limitations, Pilot promises to be an astounding leap forward in the language translation industry. Other companies will likely follow with their own versions of the “Babelfish,” creating that competition which so often drives technology’s progress.

Interested in Supporting Pilot?

So it might not be readily available this year but being the first to know about this advanced little gadget will gain you some serious awesome points.The Indiegogo campaign is still going strong, and for a discounted price, investors can be among the first to get a full Pilot system. A set of translating earbuds might be the perfect last minute father’s day gift for a gadget-loving dad next year.

What Does it Mean for Translators?

For years now, there have been companies offering computer-generated translations services for audio and video programs. While these are cheap and quick, they have proven to be no substitute for native, human translation. Pilot, and products like it, may eventually overtake the need for dubbed audio translation. But, like the current computer-generated translation services, it will probably be many years before they can translate as well as a human. Every language has unique colloquialisms, metaphors, and quirks that are difficult for computers to translate. Ultimately, human audio translation is still the best way to ensure both fluency and natural translation.

Have you dealt with computer-generated translation, a mobile translation app, or other translation services? Let us know your experience by leaving a comment!