Home / Tech News / These goofy-looking earbuds are actually real-time in-ear translators

These goofy-looking earbuds are actually real-time in-ear translators

Why it matters to you

Travelers and others seeking to overcome a language barrier may welcome a translation device that does just that.

Breaking down those communication barriers may be a much quicker process than previously anticipated if Timekettle’s WT2 prove to be everything we hope they are. These earbuds aren’t meant for playing music or podcasts, but rather for communicating with people who speak a foreign language. Because not being a polyglot shouldn’t stop you from having a conversation with just about anyone in the world.

Rather than talking past one another in your respective languages, the WT2 claims to allow for real-time translation. That means that you can speak face-to-face with your fellow human, and immediately decipher his or her message without the need for a mediator. Promising natural, hands-free communication, the WT2 seeks to enable conversations in two different languages via two earphone translators and one app. Simply don one of the earphones, speak in your language, and your interlocutor will hear in theirs.

Using the WT2 looks to be pretty simple. Simply pull them out of their charging case when you’re meeting with someone who doesn’t speak the same language, and give one to your new friend. The earbuds will automatically pair with an iOS app, and begin listening for your communication. If you’re speaking in Spanish to an English speaker, your friend will hear your Spanish words in their native tongue after a short delay. And when your friend replies in English, you’ll hear said response in Spanish.

This simple and straightforward approach to real-time translation allows for more natural interactions. You’ll still be able to maintain eye contact, gesture, and use other non-verbal cues, all while understanding one another in your respective languages.

The device is actually said to work quite well. While there is a latency issue (which could make for some awkward staring), it seems as though the actual translation portion is functional. Be warned, however, that you’ll need a strong Wi-Fi connection for the WT2 to work. So if you’re climbing K2 and need to communicate with your sherpa, you might be out of luck.

Currently, the WT2 supports six languages: Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish; but more are said to be on the way. You can pre-order a WT2 now for $149, and expect shipment in January 2018.

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