The fish in your ear… for real?

Yes, I admit it, I’m a Douglas Adams fan, and I honor towel day (today!) every year!
If you are, too, or have at least read or seen “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, then you know about the Babel fish – a small, yellow, leech-like fish, “probably the oddest thing in the
universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious
frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the
conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick
one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in
any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave
It is a universal translator that neatly crosses the language divide between any species”.
If such a creature actually existed, interpreters (and possibly translators) would be no longer needed.

If you are a Star Trek fan (yes, I admit to that, too), you will probably think first of the universal translator when you hear of people from different language backgrounds communicating without the need of an interpreter.

And of course, there are many, many other examples of this type of technology throughout the world of Scifi.

But what would you say, if there actually was such a thing as a universal translator available in our world and time? It seems a company called Waverly Labs is about to launch just that.

Here is what they say about themselves on their website:

Being lost in
translation has happened to everyone while traveling, even us, and
that’s exactly how the idea was born. Waverly Labs is committed to
bridging the gap between language barriers with the world’s first smart
earpiece language translator. 
Science fiction has called it many things, but we call it the Pilot.
There is also a video on their blog showing this fantastic new world.

It sounds great, but somehow I find it hard to believe that it really will work that well. I’ve played around with an app on my smartphone, and while it does work, you have to enunciate very clearly, and there can be no background noise. Not saying it’s impossible, but I think it’ll take a while longer for this idea to work without any hitches – and for us interpreters to be obsolete!

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