I wrote in May about the sweet little ili translation gadget from Japan that translates essentials from English to Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish and doesn’t require WiFi or 4G connection. I’ve since used the ili in linguistic combat in Spain and it really is remarkable. This, the PocketTalk, is, however, far more sophisticated – the heavy artillery of electronic translation, if you like. One caveat: to work, it has to be connected to the internet (WiFi, with its own SIM, or tethered to your phone), so a hacker could presumably access everything you ask it to translate.
The PocketTalk can translate any combination of 74 languages almost instantly and at surprising levels of complexity. There’s a handful of languages (Swahili, Javanese, Lao, Filipino, Georgian, Khmer, Nepali and others) that it doesn’t (yet) speak out loud, but you still get text translations, and your interlocutor can speak into the device in their tongue. How is this different from Google Translate and other language apps on a phone? The microphones are significantly better, so you don’t have to go through handing your precious phone backwards and forwards to strangers. There’s also noise cancellation so you can hold a relatively unstilted conversation in a crowded spot.