Have you ever imagined a world without language barriers, where you could literally talk to and understand anyone?
That is what the pilot claims to be offering. It has already been compared to the babel fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy or the universal translator in Star Trek.
Rather than have me explain it to you, watch their promotional video below:
This promo was released last year so this post isn’t exactly breaking news but with the release date fast approaching, I wanted to look at it a little more subjectively.
So what will you get?
The pilot will include 2 wireless earpieces (available in 3 colours), a battery charger (for charging on the go) and an accompanying app to toggle between languages.
At launch, the pilot will support French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, along with English with plans to start adding Germanic, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Slavic and East Asian languages in the fall.
This is not new but it is innovative
There are multiple translation apps out there and many will do speech so it is entirely possible to do this using just your smartphone, so why use the pilot at all?
Well, you are paying for a sleeker experience. As this is a wearable technology then it’s a much better than 2 people crowding round a phone. It connects via bluetooth and can work independently of the app – the languages can be downloaded into the earpiece.
Given it’s size, I don’t think it will hold all of them in one go but if you are going to a Spanish speaking country then downloading Spanish to the earpiece would be more than acceptable.
Can it really replace learning the language?
If I was to answer this honestly, I would have to say no.
Not because I am a keen language learner but we all know that translation apps are far from perfect. Some are admittedly really good but they still misunderstand or don’t translate quite right. We are a long way off from natural speech.
That being said, when in the early stages of language learning, the translation apps are still much better than I am so it will definitely have a use.
Not everyone wants to learn a language
OK, so you are not going to carry the second earpiece in your pocket and hand it to every waiter that you speak to. Assuming that you can use a single earpiece and have the speech coming out of your smartphone, then this does have a lot of value.
I’ve had situations where I couldn’t find a word and had to frantically try to get it from Google translate on my phone in order to get my point across, for situations like that it would be ideal.
For someone who knows none of the language at all there will be countless applications especially if you find yourself in a serious situation without an English speaker close by – like in a police station trying to explain your purse has been stolen.
Could you really use the Pilot in a relationship like the promo suggests
Well you could but for me, I don’t see it. The pilot will run for around 4 hours on a single charge. I can picture it now..
“Sorry dear, ask me again in a couple of hours, my earpiece is on charge”
I also feel that a computer voice just lacks the personality. There is no way that it could understand or replicate my levels of sarcasm.
So, where do you think it would be best suited?
For me, this is ideal for the occasional traveller who wants to venture out of the “touristy” part of town or enabling 2 businessmen to have a basic conversation when they don’t speak a common language.
If you can have lots of earpieces together set to different languages then it would be a great tool for a tour guide too. No longer would we have to stand for 10 minutes at each item in a museum as the guide repeats the description in 5 different languages (this is an amazing skill, I am not criticizing the guide, I just get bored very quickly)
Would you have one?
Absolutely! Lets face it, this is cool. It’s a thing that was once only found in science fiction and I would love to have a go. Given that it’s cheaper than a low end smartphone then it’s not going to break the bank either.
If you have made it all the way to the bottom (which you evidently have if you are reading this) then I have some great news.
Waverly Labs, the makers of the pilot funded the development through crowdfunding. Early backers will receive the first version of the pilot in May 2017. Not only did I secure one pilot in order to write an awesome review for you guys – I ordered 2!!
That means that there will also be one up for grabs by one lucky blog reader! (RRP $249)
It’s true – I absolutely plan to give a pair of pilot earpieces away, entirely free in a prize draw.
Want to enter?
It’s not open yet! The pilot doesn’t come out until May but if you are a member of the Language Learning Library or sign up to our newsletter, I will let you know as soon as the competition opens.
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