What effect will the Pilot earpiece have on the interpretation business?

An earpiece which translates your conversation in real time might sound like science fiction, but thanks to Waverly Labs, it’s mere inches away from being scientific fact. Their Pilot earpiece is a piece of wearable tech which will allow users to talk face to face and in real time with anyone – regardless of the language differences between the two.

The tech industry is waiting for the Pilot, which is due to be released this autumn, with baited breath. After all, this tech is offering us “a world without language barriers.” It’s a very exciting technological innovation especially in a sprawling metropolis and multi-cultural melting pot like London.

How will the Pilot work?

It looks for the moment as though using the Pilot is going to be fairly simple. All users will need is a set of two earphones and the mobile app, which “toggles between languages.” Only time will tell if the machine’s functionality is worth the hype. For now, until the product’s release, we can only speculate and take, with a pinch of salt, the remarkable test shown in their promotional video.

What effect is the Pilot earpiece going to have on the interpretation profession?

The Pilot earpiece is likely going to make history. It’s a major and impressive leap forward for technological innovation. The ability to break down language barriers just by putting in an earphone is a wonderful achievement. But will it put the interpretation industry in danger? The Pilot is designed to translate what two people are saying word for word. But what about that human, “personal touch”?

Translation technology will, and always has, struggled with words and phrases which have no English equivalent or cultural relevance to someone who isn’t from that country. But human interpreters will be able to translate idioms and culturally unique words to you in a way which makes sense.

Human translators will also have knowledge specific to the industry which their clients are discussing. Unless the earpiece has encyclopedic knowledge of countless industries, and the ability to contextualise what it hears and apply that to its interpretation, we still think human interpreters are coming out on top. This manner of industry specific knowledge is often vital when it comes to conducting international business deals.

While this earpiece might be an excellent addition to the average, tech- savvy Londoner’s private life; and ideal for taking on holiday, the aid of human interpreters is still vital, especially when it comes to corporate translations and interpretations. It’s going to be a long time before technology, Pilot or otherwise, can advance far enough to fill these specific industry needs.

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