Google’s New Wireless Headphones with Real-Time Translation Could Transform Travel

By Jeremy Del Nero on 5 October 2017
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Google Translate has been a godsend for travelers, breaking down language barriers and allowing people who speak different languages hold a coherent conversation. This week, at an event it held to introduce several new products, the company known largely for its ubiquitous search engine unveiled Google Pixel Buds.

Designed in part to compete with Apple’s popular wireless Airpods, Google Pixel Buds harness Google Translate’s real-time translation capabilities with an interface powered by Google Assistant, the company’s competitor to Apple’s Siri.

The Pixel Buds cost $160, just like the Airpods, although, unlike the Airpods, they aren’t entirely wireless; a cable connects each side of the headphone set. Otherwise, the real-time translation capability notwithstanding, the Pixel Buds are nearly identical to Apple’s product.

Based on a demonstration Google presented at the event, a traveler would simply have to touch the right earbud to receive an instantaneous translation, although he would have to repeat the translated text out loud in order for the other party.

In addition, the other party in the conversation can speak into the first party’s smartphone, generating an audio translation via the earbuds.

“It’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go,” wrote Adam Champy, Google’s product manager for the Pixel Buds, in a blog post.

While the demonstration was impressive, Google isn’t the first company to put translation capabilities into earbuds. That distinction goes to Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds, which support 40 languages using iTranslate on an iPhone. But given Google’s presence in the marketplace, the impact of the new headphones is likely to be huge.

Indeed, minus the earbuds, the Google Translate app, available both for Android and iOS, can already perform the same trick, namely listening to the user’s sentence in English and translating it into one of 40 languages and speaking it out loud.

But back to the Pixel Buds. Once they are released in November, we will be giving them a complete workout.

A Pixel device is required for the translation feature to function. While the new headphones will work with an Apple iPhone and Google does make an iOS version of Google Assistant, it’s not yet clear whether or not the translation feature will be supported.

With the exception of that one wire, the Pixel Buds are wireless in that they don’t need to be physically attached to a phone. They come with a compact recharging pack that has a built-in battery so they can be charged multiple times without requiring an outlet.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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