ili is the new wearable translator from start-up company Logbar. This remarkable little device translates your words in less than a second, allowing you to speak with ease on your travels without delay or even needing a wi-fi connection! The ili, created under company CEO Takuro Yoshida, can currently translate English into Mandarin, Japanese and Spanish, and Mandarin into Japanese and English – with many more language choices soon to come.
Logbar started out by creating a two-way translation app for smartphones, which they gave to travellers to test out. To their surprise, no one was using it! There were several reasons given; firstly, the device’s reliance on wi-fi made it slow and unreliable to use in areas with poor connection. This, plus the need to boot up the app, created frustration for users and limited the spontaneity of their use for the device. Another cause of frustration was having to pass the phone back and forth to make sure that every translated sentence was heard, due to smartphone speakers directing sound at the user instead of out to those they were speaking with. Using a phone app also detracts from eye contact, which has a vast negative effect on the process of communication and broke down the feeling of connection between users and the people they were trying to speak with.
A surprise to Logbar was its testers’ frustration with the app’s two-way conversation ability. Short of making conversation quick and easy, the two-way function required users to explain how the app worked every time they wanted to communicate with someone, such as explaining that long sentences, local slang or proper nouns may not translate clearly. This added a whole new conversation that users must attempt to translate before they could even have the exchange they wanted. This was not only stressful for the user, it ran the risk of frustrating the people they were speaking with and, again, slowed the process down.
Logbar took what they had learned and created something revolutionary: a translation tool that left the smartphone behind and brought its users back into the world. In the re-design, speed and ease were the company’s priorities. The ili can translate your sentences in as fast as 0.2 seconds without any internet connection, thanks to its OS loaded with the language of your choice, complete with every travel term you could possibly need. It can be worn around the neck, heard clearly, used anywhere, and needs no time to boot up.
To improve customer experience and remove complications, the device is now one-way. This may sound limiting, but testers had a much better time and used the device far more on their travels. Videos of the device in use all have one thing in common – laughter. At first, there is the surprise and joy of the listener at hearing the device work at all, followed by the mutual joy of all participants that they are able to communicate. Although this device only works one way, the collapsing of walls can be clearly seen: listeners look pensive, apprehensive or distant when a tourist begins speaking in a foreign language, and this response quickly changes to excitement and warmth as the novelty of the translator working and the possibilities this creates are realised.
Currently, these devices only come with one of the available language options loaded onto the OS. However, as technology advances, storing more data on them will become possible and we may see future ilis with several language capabilities. It may also allow the device to hold wider, more specific lexicons. Currently, the ili is fluent in straight-forward sentences and travel language. It does not have specific business language or advanced medical terms, but it is just as possible to program ilis this way if they are ever adopted for use in these arenas!
The fact that ili works as quickly and reliably as it does, free from wi-fi, is already a conversation-changing innovation, and its application and the effects can only become more exciting from here!
To find out more, you can visit the ili’s website at https://iamili.com