By Carol Pipes
Two summers ago, my husband and I traveled to northern Italy to work with a local evangelical church.
One morning we stopped at a café on a quiet street for our morning cappuccino. Admiring the facade, I decided to use what little Italian I knew to ask our waiter the age of the building.
He understood about every third word I spoke. Finally, a friend who was with us pulled out her phone and brought up Google Translate.
I typed in my question and up popped the Italian translation. We soon had our answer. The building was more than 400 years old.
This kind of translation technology is amazing. And it’s about to get even better.
Waverly Labs has invented a wireless earbud that can translate languages in real time.
The Pilot earpieces look similar to other earbuds on the market. According to Business Insider, the can be used to play music or make phone calls from your smartphone, but their real intention is to enable dialogue between two people speaking different languages.
The Pilot earbuds come with an app that lets you select a “source language” and a “target language.” To have a conversation, each person has to wear one of the earpieces.
When one person starts talking, the earbuds pick up the sound and the speech is sent through the app and translated into the other person’s language. The other person hears the translation in the earbud they’re wearing.
The earpieces are designed with noise-canceling microphones to filter out ambient noise.
Currently, translation can only happen between the two people wearing the earbuds and there is a slight delay. But Business Insider reports that Waverly Labs is working to shorten the lag time and has plans for the earbuds to one day translate everything being said around you.
For now, the Pilot can translate between five languages by voice and seven more by text, but they’re fairly expensive at $250 a pop.
However, this type of technology could have tremendous implications for international ministry and missions.
Imagine a multi-ethnic church being able to provide earbuds to churchgoers so the entire worship service is translated in real time without the need for translators.
Or being able to have a conversation about Jesus with an individual who speaks another language. Wow! Magnifico!
- iFaith: How Religion and Technology Coexist in a Digital Age
- How Technology Can Help Accomplish the Great Commission
CAROL PIPES (@CarolPipes) is editor in chief of Facts & Trends.