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A new wearable Bluetooth earpiece has been gaining traction on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, recently surpassing $1 million in funding and easily breaking its original goal of $75,000 from its backers. Called the "Pilot," the insertable earpiece translates languages in real time between users speaking with one another, all through a connected smartphone app.

The Pilot comes with two earpieces, and when used together the system can function as a traditional set of wireless earbuds with basic audio and music playback through a Bluetooth-connected smartphone. When in need of its translation ability, users can hand off one of the earbuds to another person so their conversation is filtered and translated to each user through the Pilot's real-time language translator.


To start off, the earpiece's creators -- Waverly Labs -- will include language packages for English, Spanish, French and Italian, with other languages introduced as paid downloads in the future. The app will initially be required to connect online when it launches this summer (as a basic translator sans Pilot earpieces), but will eventually store its language database offline so users won't have to worry about a constant internet connection fueling Pilot. There's even an option to funnel the translated conversation through a smartphone's speaker so everyone nearby can hear what a foreign speaker is saying.

The Pilot's FAQ mentions that translation isn't currently perfect, but that the more people use the device, the smarter Pilot will become. There's also "a couple of seconds of delay" between when a user speaks in their native tongue, and when it is translated to the second Pilot earbud wearer, which Waverly Labs says will be an aspect of the device it works hard at shortening through app updates.

pilot-earpiece.jpg

Although there were early bird specials at discounted prices, all of them are sold out. Pilot is currently selling for $199 as a pre-order on its Indiegogo page. With that bundle users will get the two earpieces, a portable charger, and three different sized eartips. Other backer levels include bundles of extra Pilot earpieces, and the chance to meet the team at Waverly Labs and get a glimpse behind the scenes of the technology's creation.

The Pilot could be delivered, at the earliest, by Christmas of 2016, although Waverly Labs is telling backers to expect the first shipment of Pilot earpieces to arrive in Spring of 2017.

Article Link: 'Pilot' Real-Time Language Translating Earpiece Tops $1 Million in Funding
 

Konrad74

macrumors newbie
Jan 24, 2008
13
1
Toronto, ON
That's pretty damned cool.

It will probably take a while to get the delay down - the system will have to understand the context in order to translate as something fairly close to what the speaker intends, and that will take understanding preceding AND following words, idioms, grammatical structures. In time, I suspect the delay can be reduced considerably. /$0.02
 
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jmh600cbr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 14, 2012
974
2,108
this will be massive as my girfriend is russian and i am canadian. Her parents and I can barely communicate. On the other hand I wont be giving them $199. I'd rather wait to see what the product truly is in production and give them $400 than waste more money on indigogo.
 
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Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,870
297
Troutdale, OR
I can't imagine many people will want to put something in their ear that was just in someone else's ear..... Especially a stranger.... Good idea, poor form factor.

A small speaker to hold next to the ear for the other person sound more hygienic.
 
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WilliamG

macrumors G3
Mar 29, 2008
9,182
2,687
Seattle
I can't imagine many people will want to put something in their ear that was just in someone else's ear..... Especially a stranger.... Good idea, poor form factor.

A small speaker to hold next to the ear for the other person sound more hygienic.

No. That's the whole point of this: no distraction from the interaction. Holding something up to your ear defeats the point.
 
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stiligFox

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2009
1,236
711
10.0.1.3
Doesn't Gene Roddenberry own the patent on that (Universal Translator). http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Universal_translator

Yup, and I'm pretty sure he wanted anyone to be able to use the terms he pattended when they were invented (like phaser, transporter, etc.)

That being said this is super cool - this is closer to TNG and DS9 Universal Translator. Anyone remember that DS9 episode where the Ferengi were accidentally transported to Area 51 and their Universal Translators _in their ears_ where broken?

Sick stuff! Can't wait to see how well this actually works. Hope it doesn't flop or turn out to be be a fake money grab.
 
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2010mini

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2013
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"It was difficult for us to communicate because she didn't speak English very well."
He's the one on vacation in a French-speaking country, but she's expected to know English?

You would be surprised how many countries know english even though it is not their native language. English is the international business language so it is taught in schools.

Apple should buy this company and integrate this into the iPhone
 
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dampfnudel

macrumors 68040
Aug 14, 2010
3,246
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Brooklyn, NY
You would be surprised how many countries know english even though it is not their native language. English is the international business language so it is taught in schools.

Apple should buy this company and integrate this into the iPhone

I'm sure the people at Apple responsible for looking for new acquisitions are keeping their eyes on this one. It would be awesome to have an accurate international translator with no lag and may even prevent some dangerous situations where/when miscommunication might lead to violence.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,130
5,099
I don't understand what the dedicated hardware is for... Why not just use the iPhones built in mic and speakers?
 
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C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
51,388
19,440
I don't understand what the dedicated hardware is for... Why not just use the iPhones built in mic and speakers?
Perhaps so that it would be more along the lines of a normal conversation rather than a somewhat unusual one with people holding their iPhones to their faces while taking to each other face to face? Although using the speakerphone seems to be an option as well.
 
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2010mini

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2013
4,539
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I don't understand what the dedicated hardware is for... Why not just use the iPhones built in mic and speakers?

Did you miss the part of the video where he explains holding the phone hinders natural communication? the earpiece allows for true "handsfree" communication.
 
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C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
51,388
19,440
You would be surprised how many countries know english even though it is not their native language. English is the international business language so it is taught in schools.

Apple should buy this company and integrate this into the iPhone
While that is often or at least sometimes true, that's not quite the point there with the phrasing and expectations.
 
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