The world in your ear

This is your typical story of boy meets girl, boy can’t speak French, boy creates some tech. Classic.

In 2013, with love in his eyes, New Yorker and self-confessed “tech futurist, entrepreneur, autodidact, sojourner and blogger” Andrew Ochoa was spurred into creating a world without language barriers. He founded Waverly Labs to create The Pilot – a set of in-ear translators that are designed to let people who speak different languages understand each other in real-time.

And so the press went wild. Comparisons to Star Trek’s Universal Translator and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Babel Fish abounded. Not the stuff of science fiction anymore.

The Pilot earpieces work by connecting to a smartphone using Bluetooth and making use of an embedded app that does the translating, using open source work on speech recognition and translation and paying for other research and patented systems. After developing support for European and Germanic languages, the team will move onto Slavic Semitic, Hindi and East Asian languages.

Watch this video to learn more about the technology and the cute story behind the project. (And yes, he got the girl.)

This article was originally published in Atlas of the Future.

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