- Mar 20, 2004
In Star Trek they have a Universal Translator that does real-time translation of any language to any language. In the world of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy it is the Babelfish while in the Doctor Who verse it is the TARDIS doing the translation.
Google may be on the verge of releasing their own version of a universal translator that does close to real-time.
The Google product announcement is for Pixel Buds, a wireless (well, mostly wireless, they are wired to each other) set of bluetooth enabled ear buds. The ear buds work in conjunction with a google app running, of course, on your Android device. Essentially the device is what's listening for the speech, the app does the translation, and then you hear the translation discretely with the ear buds. In operation there is a "touchpad" on the right ear bud; you touch the touchpad to start/stop translations.
This is not the first product to get the "universal translator" label applied to it but it is likely the first one to get attention in the mass marketplace coming from tech giant Google, especially since the translation is one just one feature of the ear buds. Buy some ear buds to listen to music, get a cool translator thrown in.
But... there is one big "But" attached. While the ear buds will work with any Android phone the translation feature at the moment will only work with the also just announced Google Pixel 2 phone. I don't know if that is a hardware restriction at this time or just a software restriction in order to boost the appeal of the Pixel but that is a major letdown. Phones running Android are the predominant mobile platform globally (yes, it's true, yes, iPhone is the leader if you consider "iPhone" to be a single model versus other single models like Samsung Galaxy) so it would have been a boom to have it available to all Android devices.
Oh, sadly, no, Klingon is not currently listed as a supported language.
Product Site: https://store.google.com/product/google_pixel_buds