Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Found in Translation

Imagine traveling without the constraints of language knowledge (or lack there of). While at times it seems that our globalized world already connects people in all parts of the world, we have not yet overcome the barrier of language. Andrew Ochoa, as the CEO of Waverly Labs, has created ear buds that transcend linguistic barriers that have once kept people apart. The Pilot Translating Earpiece translates between speakers of different languages in real time.

Here's how it works:

As the video demonstrates, the small device truly has the ability to connect people that realistically never could have communicated. The Pilot Translating Earpiece translates between 15 languages, contains a noise canceling microphone, uses bluetooth technology, and has enough battery life to last a full day. Available languages include French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and English for no additional cost. Users may also purchase Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, German, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian and Turkish this fall. As a creative business person, Andrew recognized that function is not the only determinant of a product's success. He sought to make it fashionable, largely by making the device compact with the option to choose one of three colors. The product is currently priced at about $300, but sales are pre-order only. 

Andrew's creativity sets his business apart from google-translate. The Pilot was motivated by an encounter with someone with who there was no common language, therefore no ability to communicate. This is a clear example of creative problem solving. He then used his resources and internal motivation to team up with five experts (the members of Waverly Labs) to develop a real product that could serve as a solution to the problem.

Though at the moment Andrew may be considered "small c creative," in the future that label may change. Initially, I imagined that this product could be a replacement for traditional linguists and translators. There also seem to be potential militaristic and diplomatic uses of the Pilot. Developments along these lines would be revolutionary, enough to move Andrew from "small c creative" to "big C Creative." While the potential uses of the Pilot are still unclear, it is yet another example of creative problem solving that can change the way and ease with which we live.


  1. This is a really interesting concept and seems like it would be especially beneficial for travelling. The example in the video seems a little bit extreme to me, as it seems like one of the best part of having friends who speak other languages it working through the language barrier and eventually beginning to learn a new language. I wonder if there is a way that the device could store the translations it makes so you could go back and study them, or somehow incorporate a different language-learning aspect. It definitely is cool and unique that this type of technology will be available to the general public. I am curious to know more about how this idea came about.

  2. This post reminds me that within a field there are many possible outlets for creativity. Andrew and his fellows saw the drawbacks of current translation technology in that there was a lack in practicality and ease. One of most frustrating problems in the NLP(natural language processing) and translation fields revolve around the understanding and interpretation of human ambiguity and idioms. Given how the central ideas of this device is to allow easy and quick translation for overcoming the language barrier, I wonder how this device handles translating idioms, and the accuracy of language translated.


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