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Some years Before i Spent a day at Suntory’s Yamazaki Brewery Outside Kyoto, Japan. There is a bar at the end of the tour, (pro tip) it is one of the only places in the world where you can buy Suntory whiskey at a cost price. When I bought my first glass of whiskey, a pair of Japanese men taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo waved to me. Through pantomimes, one of them asked me to taste the whiskey in his glass. In the end we spent a few hours tasting spirits and talking about Japanese whiskey through the magic of Google Translate on our mobile phone. This is a paused, awkward way of talking, but it is glorious, and it is still one of the best experiences in my life.

But what if we can really talk through voice? Do you know, the old-fashioned way?This is the promise of the other party Ambassador Translation, A device priced at $179, designed to ultimately bring a fabulous Babel fish Get as close to life as possible.

Easy to say

The interpreter is provided in the form of a pair of over-ear headphones, one for your right ear and the other for your friend. You download the Ambassador mobile app (all translation work is done here) and use Bluetooth to pair the two headsets with your mobile phone.

Multiple handsets are connected to an instance of the application, and each user chooses the language they want to hear.

Photo: Waverly Laboratories

The ambassador has three modes of operation. Converse mode is a two-way system: you can choose one of 20 languages ​​and 42 dialects, and then the application translates your language into his language and his language into your language. (If you have enough headphones, up to four people can talk through the app at the same time.) Lecture mode is a one-way system that translates your speech and streams it in another language through the smartphone’s speaker . The listening mode is the opposite, listening to the language of your choice, translating it into your own language, and then transmitting it to your headset.

The good news is that both Converse and Lecture performed surprisingly well. Although the Ambassador app can be a bit awkward to use—especially because you have to manually reconnect the headset every time you turn off the headset—but it is intuitive enough to get the job done without a lot of hands-on. If you are in a hurry, this is not an app that can be used because you have to manually select the language you want to listen to and translate, which may take some time. (You can also configure whether you want to listen to male or female translations.)

Once everything is ready-and, presumably, once you convince the other person in Converse mode that you are not a lunatic who wants them to wear a headset-you can start talking. This may be a bit of a pause, because the ambassador is not always online by default. You have to click on the side of the device to make it translate, which makes using two of them a bit like a walkie-talkie operation. In other modes, pressing the button once will stay on until you press it again. There are also volume buttons on the side of each earpiece.

Wechat

As you can imagine, the translation is far from perfect, but if you speak clearly and at a reasonable speed, the system runs very well. It has difficulty with some proper nouns, but it can handle slang and informal language (such as “gonna get’em”) fairly easily. The application also saves a running log of all content in text form, so if it misheard what you said, you will have a chance to correct it. Please note that in a two-way conversation, you need to be very close and personal to work, which may be a bit challenging in our pandemic situation, but I found that the ambassador works well under the mask.

I have high hopes that through the listening mode, I can watch foreign language movies in my native language, but this has not been successful.Although I can get a reasonable translation like this Slow Spanish News, Speeches on mainstream shows and movies are always too fast for the ambassador to keep up. In most cases, the system did not capture any conversation at all, or even if it did, it was just a random word here or there. If there is background music or special effects to deal with, just leave it alone. (I also had to turn up the volume on the TV and sit a few feet away from it. Even slow, neat speeches would work.)

Three users paired their headsets with the app so that they can participate in the translated conversation.

Photo: Waverly Laboratories

I don’t like hardware either. The egg-shaped device was awkward to hold, and when I tried to put it on, I found it kept slipping from my hand. Once it is worn on your ears, it will swing loosely and feels unsafe to use during exercise. The headphones are charged via a Micro-USB cable. Although 6 hours of battery life were promised, I went back to the ambassador more than once and found that even if they were not used, their power had dropped to zero for a while. Some work on battery management seems to be orderly.

In the end, this concept is the winner; if some practical problems can be solved, it will be a great product. At present, if all parties are willing to spend time, this can be said to be the most effective way to overcome language barriers and does not require human translation to complete this work.To this, I said bell!

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