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2017.10.31 Google Launches Translation Earphones
At its tech event in San Francisco on October 4, 2017, Google launched its latest smartphone, Pixel 2, along with other new hardware. In addition to the new lineup, Google introduced Pixel Buds—wireless, real-time translation headphones that are compatible with the Pixel series. Pixel Buds will go on sale from November with a price tag of $159, and reservations are currently being accepted in the United States. The timing of its release in Japan is still unkown.

The translation feature works by first wirelessly connecting the earphones to Pixel or Pixel 2, then tapping the touchpad on the right earphone to launch Google Assistant. Next, you verbally pick the language that needs to be translated, starting up Google Translate, and begin talking. Your words get translated and played from the smartphone’s speaker. When the person you are trying to talk to speaks into the smartphone’s microphone, you hear the translation from the earphones. According to Google, this real-time translation supports 40 languages.

There are a number of real-time translation devices for daily conversations that have recently been introduced. For example, “ili” was developed by Japanese company Logbar at the beginning of this year, and is already in use. Although only capable of one-way translation, its advantage lies in the fact that it does not require an internet connection. Translating earphone “WT2” by China’s TimeKettle requires an internet connection, but enables you to carry on a conversation while your hands remain free. 

Due to the progress in translation AI, such devices are also becoming more user-friendly. The increasing usability means an enhanced experience in intercultural situations. Imagine going overseas and being able to casually communicate with the locals; travelling would be much more fun.

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