Can you imagine a world where you could speak or understand any language without learning it first? That’s a future Google materializes with their new Pixel Buds.
The new earbuds were revealed yesterday at an event in San Francisco. There, Google also unveiled its new Pixel 2 phone, an update to the Google Home device and more.
The Pixel Buds, though, really picked our interest. If you’ve ever read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, you’ll obviously bring the Babel Fish to mind. The latter, when put into a person’s ear allowed any language to be understood, in real time.
What are these new Pixel Buds?
Well, these earbuds are like the Babel Fish. They are wireless headphones, not too dissimilar to Apple’s Air Pods and sit in your ear. They are attached to each other by a wire and feature a touch panel on the front of them.
According to Google, the Pixel Buds can translate 40 languages via the existing Google Translate technology. All you need to do is to hold the right earbud and say, for example, “help me speak French”. When you next speak, the Buds will then play the translation out loud in French. If someone speaks to you in French, the Buds will play you the translation in your ear!
“It’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go,” Google claims in a blog post. While in demonstration, the technology had almost no lag and seemed to pick up the audio easily.
All this sounds like magic, but Google Translate is already pretty well proven (if not always completely accurate). It makes sense, therefore, that Google would apply this technology on the fly to audio. However, that might not be very good news for some start-ups promising similar technology.
Compared to its other big reveals, Google was pretty nonchalant about this one. But there is real potential here. Imagine being able to go to any country and be able to speak their language. Not bad.
Of course, Google is not the first to offer this technology. Skype and a start-up called Pilot both touted speech translations. But the Pixel Buds stand apart as being real-time, accurate, and affordable. They will retail for just $159 and might just change our known world.