Пообщаемся через…мегафон?!

Thanks to the efforts of Japanese inventors, technology is now able to provide interpreting services. A unique megaphone can translate a person’s speech from one language to another in an instant. The equipment performs forward and backward translations.

Only three languages are in the device’s arsenal so far: Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Panasonic plans to expand this list significantly by 2020. It is quite probable that the megaphone will ‘speak’ Russian as well.

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How does the megaphone translator work?

Its vocabulary is based on common sentences used in Japan to attract attention and form short messages.

The technology is perfectly capable of translating phrases such as «Pay attention on the escalator», «Proceed to the evacuation exit», «The flight is delayed». Even if such phrases are not spoken word for word, the megaphone can recognize and translate them.

Background noise and nearby speech do not disrupt the operation. A special technology «filters» the sound, so the equipment ignores noise that is not relevant to translation. You can enrich the vocabulary of megaphone by downloading updates.

The equipment has proven its effectiveness in 30 Japanese organizations. The megaphone has been used by firemen, policemen as well as by railway companies.

Panasonic hopes that the megaphone will be appreciated at other sites. It can be used at railway stations, airports and public tourist attractions.

Facts about the use of the megaphone interpreter:
In December 2016, the technique became available to corporate customers from Japan, China and Korea.
Accurate and competent translation with the device is possible thanks to the continuously updated cloud service.
The subscription fee for using the megaphone is just over $180 per month.
By 2018, the manufacturer plans to expand the number of users of the equipment by another 10,000 people.
Where did the idea come from?

The impetus for this amazing invention came from some not entirely pleasant events. In 2014 there was a flood in Japan, and many foreign citizens rushed to leave the country by plane — the only relatively safe transport. The airport in Tokyo was in a real state of collapse: it was overloaded with flights, and foreigners needed to be provided with up-to-date information on schedule changes and other important information simultaneously in several languages.

Will translation agencies remain in demand?

They certainly will. After all, this invention is not suitable for business negotiations or meetings, for larger events where simultaneous interpretation is needed or for court interpreting, for instance. It is an invention perfectly suited to locations with large crowds of people who need to convey some basic information. Although the robotic translation industry is developing rapidly, the world has yet to see a universal invention that can completely replace humans.