The Pilot in-ear translator lets you hear English when the person talking to you is speaking French, Spanish or Italian, and lets them hear their own language back. I think that’s amazing. It’s not quite on par with a Star Trek universal translator, or even a Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the books, not the unfortunately disappointing movie), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
The wearable system includes 2 earpieces, one for each person talking, and a smartphone app that allows you to switch between languages. The Waverley Labs website also mentions wirelessly streaming music to the earpiece also, and I can only presume it will translate that too. It will work anywhere, even if there’s no WiFi or you’re nowhere near a cell tower.
The Pilot already has a little competition from the Skype translator tool, which adds translated subtitles to your Skype conversations. However, the Pilot clearly beats Skype for translating face to face conversations, and just hanging out with people. I’m a little curious about the Spanish translator, which could have very practical uses here in the US, providing that it understands the differences between European Spanish and Mexican Spanish.
Pilot translator is available for pre-order from $129 and should be available around September.