August 22, 2018
The time is 9:00 in the morning; it is the start of a special day since it is the beginning of my long awaited and planned vacation. I am in Osaka, Japan. In the city that marks the start of a trip that includes various countries on this continent that is rich in cultural, gastronomical and technological diversity. My expectations for this trip are high.
The plane has landed, the final instructions from the captain have been heard and I am ready to set foot on Asian ground for the first time in my life. And it is here where I get on my way with the first challenge of this journey. Being a place of such differences, the language barrier is the biggest challenge that I have to navigate.
At first, it is not difficult to get around in the airport: the universal signage of airports allows me to move through the different filters, to find my luggage, go the migration windows, find the exit and locate the transportation that will take me to my destination. Even the use of a universal or familiar language like English allows me to obtain simple responses from the people who work here.
However, it is in dealing with people directly when I have to put into practice my skills for transmitting the message, the idea that I need. To find a taxi or a bus to get into the city.
Outside of the airports there are not many people that can speak a language that is not the local language. I have to learn the most useful phrases when I go to another country and communicate efficiently, avoiding frustration so that I don't ruin my vacation.
For travelers like me, a great deal of effort has been made to solve these communication problems, whether you are in another country for pleasure or for business. There is everything from interpreters for business meetings to t-shirts designed with a stamp that indicates with simple iconography elements such as food, hotel, movie theater, stores, beach, price, etc. However, ever since the existence of connectivity, communication has become easier; access to the internet at practically any location has been able to improve communication between people, which is reflected in a richer and more enjoyable experience when immersing oneself in other cultures.
This has been accomplished, in large part, thanks to tools like Google Translate, which has been in our lives for several years, evolving to the point that automatic translations are now more precise and are able to transmit messages better.
However, technology has not stopped there, since in recent years developers have seen the need to have independent and practical gadgets or devices that can use the immediate translation system with just the touch of a button. Something that adapts better to real life.
The examples are clear, such as "Pilot" from Waverly Labs. This involves an earpiece that is able to translate in real time directly in your ear. This gadget is inspired in the famous movie Guardians of the Galaxy, in the character Star-Lord or Peter Quill, who has the ability of having a device implanted in his ear that allows him to communicate with any being in the universe (if one assumes that in the universe there should be millions of languages, as there are stars).
With this gadget we avoid the "tedious" task of typing the phrase or text that we want to translate. However, if people think that using a device in the ear is a problem, the company Logbar presented its own automatic translator, "Ili," which looks like a small remote control that has a button. You only have to say the desired phrase to the device by pressing the button and then the gadget will translate it to the desired language so the other person can understand what it is that we need. This device is designed to translate to English, Japanese and Chinese. Additionally, it has common phrases for tourists so that any traveler can find the fashionable restaurant, find out the price of something you want to buy or even what time the bar closes.
Without a doubt this technology responds to the fact that the world is becoming more and more connected, it is traveling and nobody wants to miss out on the experience of knowing more just because they don't know another language.
How far will these devices go? Do we have an interface or algorithms sufficient to cover the actual need for translation or interpretation as another human being would do it? Artificial intelligence allows us to have speed in this area, but until now it seems insufficient, since the messages or texts still must respond to a structural logic or obey more complex contexts so that the ideas are not lost. The intervention of human beings is still important in this task, since, at present, it is not possible to replace the logical and reasoning part.
Was born in Mexico City, he worked as a graphic designer in several print media until 2011 when he joined TraduService as Project Manager. He has developed a preference for English language in his daily use and always seeks to practice it with people who have it as their mother tongue. So, the world of translation has become his day to day activity.