It’s predicted that the number of connected wearable devices worldwide will reach 929 million by 2021 – that’s an increase of over 185% from 2016 figures. Largely driven by smartwatches and wristbands, many wearable devices are evolving with purpose, like the wearable translator designed to overcome language barriers.
With recent advances in technology replacing the need to learn languages, there are some people who believe that there is simply no replacement for learning a foreign language. Fortunately, we are not one of those people. We are excited to be living in a time where wearable translator technology might replace the need to learn languages the old-fashioned way. Here are three companies that have, in the last couple of years, found a way of using the latest technology to help us blend in with the locals.
Fujitsu [The Wearable]
Back in September 2017, Fujitsu Laboratories announced that they have developed a hands-free wearable translator device. The compact device works by differentiating speakers using small omnidirectional microphones. Fujitsu made this possible through an ingenious modification of the shape of the sound channel, and by improving the accuracy of speech detection technology of their device. Highly resistant to background noise the wearable has the technological ability to automatically change to the appropriate language without the wearer having to physically touch the device.
When it comes to the technical breakdown, Fujitsu successfully miniaturized the wearables through the use of miniaturized omnidirectional microphones and technology that enhances the directivity of sound in the target direction using an L-shaped sound channel, which dampens sound from directions other than the target direction. They also adopted a high-sensitivity microphone element and suppressed ambient noise, such as from air conditioners and diagnostic devices, through the use of noise suppression technology.
Babbel [The App]
Babbel was among the first to pioneer online language learning. Their powerful app combines communicative didactics, cognitivism, behaviourism and constructivism. I (Muchaneta) had the opportunity to try it out, and I love it. I have been using Babbel to learn Dutch. I found that through the progressive lessons, I was able to practise real-life conversations in Dutch. Ok, I am not a native (yet), but I enjoyed taking advantage of their proven cognitive techniques and the fact that they used human voices and speech recognition, which helped me relate to my ‘tutor’. Building each course based on your native language and personal interests, Babbel offers individual paths, looking at where you are coming from and where you want to go.
Waverly Lab [The Hearable]
Waverly Labs is an innovative consumer product company created in 2014. Building a world without language barriers, Waverly is a convergence of wearable technology and speech translation. Named Pilot, Waverley Lab’s Wearable Translator earpiece is considered best-in-class when it comes to design, modernity and ergonomics.
Pilot uses the latest technologies in speech recognition, machine translation and wearable technology to allow users to converse without language barriers. “Pilot was designed like no other earbud. Optimizing the overall user experience is, and always will be, at the core of our research and development.” – Sergio Del Rio, Head of design engineering. Using Pilot’s mobile app, the sleek hearable tech device, unfortunately, requires an internet connection to toggle between 15 languages, can also be used to listen to music, make and receive calls.