Translation Earpiece on Horizon

A relic from the future is due out this year: the wearable translator. Startup Waverly Labs shares a YouTube video, “A World Without Language Barriers,” to introduce their product. They have raised over $4 million through Indiegogo for development of the device, named the Pilot. The video should intrigue anyone who follows machine translation. A Waverly press release specifies:

“Pilot uses the latest technologies in speech recognition, machine translation and wearable technology to allow users to converse without language barriers. Pilot includes a second earpiece for wireless music streaming and a mobile app, which toggles between languages.”

This could also be valuable for use with foreign-language videos and other media, unlocking vast stores of knowledge for many. My question—Will the translation quality actually exceed today’s imperfect machine translation? If not, users will have to be on alert for crossed wires; the earpiece may lead one to forget errors may occur.

Early funding is now closed, but the company has moved pre-orders to its website. Each unit costs $249, and they expect to deliver in “late summer 2017.” Oh, and they come in black, white, or red. Waverly Labs was founded in 2013, and is based in New York City.

Cynthia Murrell, February 3, 2017