The Star Trek movies and television series use universal translators for speakers of different races to communicate. Or more precisely, the universal translator is a device used to decipher and interpret alien languages into the native language of the user. Wikia has an entire page devoted to the history and use of the universal translator vis-à-vis Star Trek. It appears one thing Star Trek got wrong is the “shortly before 2051” date for the invention of the translator. Unless that is, you consider 2016 as shortly before 2051.
Waverly Labs has announced the Pilot Smart Earpiece Language Translator. Two Bluetooth ear buds, one in your ear, one in your other-language-speaking counterpart, they let you communicate almost normally, just by speaking your own language. The first generation works only when you are speaking to someone who also has an earpiece. The plan is that with future generations, you will only need an earpiece in your own ear to understand everything spoken around you. Once you download the software, the Pilot works offline, making it possible to communicate in areas where the internet is not available. The ear buds are also used for wireless music streaming. A preorder campaign for the first generation Pilot launched May 25th, 2016 through Indiegogo with delivery of the ear buds promised in May of 2017.
Google translate is the number one translator used right now. It translates text between 103 languages with varied success. It is available on PCs and laptops. There is also an Android app that is available on and offline. In conversation mode, Google will translate spoken words to text in another language. Bing by Microsoft does a similar translation job to Google. All online translators today are machine translators. They are capable of putting words together but are not proficient enough to understand a sentence completely. None of them are entirely coherent, but overall they give you the gist of things. Skype offers a translator for conversations in seven languages including Mandarin. You have to pause often for Skype to translate, and of course, Skype is for phone calls, not for speaking to someone in the same room.
Pilot offers you a “life untethered.” No more typing or reading a translation, just the spoken word. The first generation will offer translation to and from English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Imagine a trip to Europe with no problem ordering food, renting rooms, or understanding tour guides. A YouTube video posted by Waverly Labs even suggests a bilingual romance as the genesis of the Pilot.
There are some concerns about whether the Pilot is the real deal. The Waverly Labs website has very little background information about the people behind the Pilot. Paul Armstrong, who writes about tech news for Forbes magazine spoke to Andrew Ochea, the CEO and Founder of Waverly Labs and came away with more information than is available on the website. He learned the creators of the Pilot are a team of six and that the Pilot is in the late “Alpha” stage. After a 20 minute conversation, Armstrong is skeptical but willing to give the Pilot a chance. Technology is growing by leaps and bounds and the Pilot is a big leap.
In the opinion of Spenser Mestel at the Atlantic Monthly:
“Even if it lags and stutters, Waverly Labs’ Pilot is a remarkable invention that could change what it means to be a student, tourist, immigrant, and refugee.” The Pilot may not be quite ready to boldly go where no man has gone before, but Fresh KDS can take your restaurant into the future. We offer a paperless, wireless, tablet-based system. Our affordable color coded setup is easy to use and lets you track average ticket times and popular items in real time.