Fans of Star Trek (The Original Series) will fondly remember the “Universal Translator.” While Gene Roddenberry’s epic saga was both inspirational and aspirational for some, it set goals for others. How much wireless bandwidth would you need on the Starship Enterprise? How would a medical tricorder work? What kind of storage would you need on Memory Alpha? How did the noise-cancelling for communicators work? Every engineer I know can tell you a story about how he or she was inspired by this amazing 1960s television show.
Fast forward to today. Google announced that Interpreter Mode is rolling out for iOS and Android. Now, you will be able to speak in 44 languages in real time.
If you have a Google Home smart speaker, you’ve had this capability for a while, but on the phone… it’s magic. “Hey Google, help me speak Spanish.” Try it. You will be amazed. (If you are not amazed, I will remind you that this is the beginning. In a very short period of time, real-time translation while wearing wireless earbuds will become commonplace.)
Will we build these into eyewear (like the Bose AR Frames) and couple the technology with heads-up displays? Will it become socially acceptable to wear earbuds during meetings? Will someone hack into your universal translator to mess with your international relationships? This is a brave new world of communication, and it is super-exciting. Thanks to all the Google engineers who are making this happen. Gene Roddenberry would be thrilled!
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