In the book Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the main characters are able to understand different languages by putting a small Fish call the babble fish into their ear. It is a useful plot device like the universal translator on Star Trek, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet with current technology. But a new device called Langogo gets us one step closer to universal translation, without having to put a slimy fish in your ear.
Langogo, bills itself on IndieGoGo as the “1st Pocket Translator and Global Wi-Fi”.
Designed to handle life on the go, Langogo is your smart travel buddy for global traveling. Powered by AI, it is:
? Your language pass to 60 spoken languages
? Your 24-hour AI voice travel buddy
? Your global Wi-Fi hotspot in 72 countries
Anywhere, anytime, travel, and connect with Langogo.
I turn down most requests to review products, but the Langogo seemed like it was worth a try. I took one with me on my recent trip to central Europe. To be honest, before I tried the device I was having second thoughts about volunteering to review it. Why had I agreed to one more thing to do as I was busy getting ready for my trip?
However, my first impression with the device was delight. It is a very simple device. You choose a language, speak a phrase, it will transcribe the phrase in your language and then write it out and speak it in the target language.
Native Speaker Reactions
I needed to hear what native speakers thought of the device so I first tried it on our Brazilian college student. I translated something from English to Portuguese and she said, “That’s Portuguese from Portugal”. She was right, that was what I had chosen. I switched it to Brazilian Portuguese and she said it got the accent correct.
When we were in Hungary, I tried it on the person at the front desk and on our driver and both said it was understandable and the translation for the simple phrase I chose was correct. Our driver did add that by contrast Google translate “does not work very well with Hungarian” in his opinion.
The Langogo does use a cell signal or wi-fi to do translation so don’t expect to have a conversation with the person next to you on the plane, at least without paying for the airplane internet.
The device is currently only sold on IndieGoGo here: Langogo.
The device costs $229 (currently discounted on Indiegogo) and is available through Oct 2018.
On the Indiegogo campaign, every backer is offered 2G data, which is about 1-2 years usage depending on how frequently you will use it, and you can use it anywhere in the world.
For the trial unit I was sent we needed to turn on the data plan, which for Budapest was $3.6 per day with unlimited data. It’s the same price for most of the European countries.
One improvement I would suggest is that it would be good to be able to switch the source and target languages more easily. So for instance, click a button and switch from English to German, to German to English. This would aid in having a conversation with someone else.
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This is a very interesting device. It may not be the final solution to the problem of universal translation, but it is a pretty cool next step.